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Anniversary Issue


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The Anti-cuts Movement and the Left The Great Unrest: 1910- 1914 The Paris Commune: A Contested Legacy The anarchist sculptor Henri Gaudier Brzeska AND MORE

Anarchist Federation local groups and contacts

The magazine of the Anarchist Federation Issue 77 - Winter 2011
Organise! is the magazine of the Anarchist Federa on (AF). It is published in order to develop anarchist communist ideas. It aims to provide a clear anarchist viewpoint on contemporary issues and to ini ate debate on ideas not normally covered in agita onal papers. We aim to produce Organise! twice a year. To meet this target, we posi vely solicit contribu ons from our readers. We aim to print any ar cle that furthers the objec ves of anarchist communism. If youd like to write something for us, but are unsure whether to do so, why not get in touch rst? Even ar cles that are 100% in agreement with our aims and principles can leave much open to debate. As always, the ar cles in this issue do not necessarily represent the collec ve viewpoint of the AF. We hope that their publicaon will produce responses from our readers and spur debate on. The deadline for the next issue of Organise! will be 1st March 2012. Please send all contribu ons to the address on the right. It would help if all ar cles could be either typed or on disc. Alterna vely, ar cles can be emailed to the editors directly at

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castle Upon Tyne, NE99 1TA No ngham AF (including No s) Box AF c/o The Sumac Centre 245 Gladstone Street No ngham NG7 6HX no h p:// ngham/ Organise! editors Organise!, BM ANARFED, London, WC1N 3XX Resistance editors Resistance, BM ANARFED, London, WC1N 3XX Sheeld AF h p:// Surrey and Hants AF Worcester AF York AF

What goes in Organise!

Organise! hopes to open up debate in many areas of life. As we have stated before, unless signed by the Anarchist Federa on as a whole or by a local AF group, ar cles in Organise! reect the views of the person who has wri en the ar cle and nobody else. If the contents of one of the ar cles in this issue provokes thought, makes you angry, compels a response then let us know. Revolu onary ideas develop from debate, they do not merely drop out of the air!

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Organise! Issue 76 - Spring 2011

Organise!, BM ANARFED, London, WC1N 3XX

Editorial 25 years of the Afed The Paris Commune: A Contested Legacy The Anti-Cuts Movement and the Left: a local activists perspective The Great Unrest: Prelude to the Storm Revolutionary Portrait: Eugene Varlin, Martyr of the Paris Commune The Day Will Come: Chicago 1886 The Mexican Revolution The anarchist sculptor Henri Gaudier Brzeska Reviews Obituary: Bob Miller 1953-2011

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Organise! single issue: 3.50 UK / 4.00 EU / 4.50 rest of world Organise! subscrip on (2 issues per year): 6 UK / 7 EU / 8 rest of world Resistance subscrip on (10 issues per year): 8 UK / 15 EU / 20 rest of world Organise! & Resistance joint subscrip on: 14 UK / 22 EU / 28 rest of world All prices include postage. Cheques or postal orders payable to AFED. Order online: h p:// Ask about discounted bulk orders: distribu

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Welcome to the 77th issue of Organise! In it we focus on some of the several anniversaries that fall this year, including the 25th birthday of the Anarchist (Communist) Federa on itself. As such we give you ar cles on the Paris Commune of 1871 and on one of its heroes, Eugene Varlin, on the Mexican Revolu on that started in 1911, on industrial struggles in Britain in the same year, and on the Haymarket martyrs 125 years on. We look at the past history of our movement in celebra on but also cri cally. We also look at present struggles through reec on on the recent es violence against property and also people in the August riots of this Summer. Even socialist organisa ons supposedly in touch with the working class bluntly dismissed rioters as misguided and as invi ng the repression of the whole class. Perhaps because there were fewer a acks on the police than in the riots of the early 1980s, for example, the upsurge in proletarian anger was interpreted as individualis c and/or materialis c by everyone from the Daily Mail to the Socialist Party. Anarchists do not sit in judgement on the working class, however. It does not sit comfortably with us that people were killed and that

ac vity of the AF itself in the wider anarchist and an -authoritarian movement over the past ve or six years, and an interview with a local an -cuts ac vist. In addi on, we bring you the reviews of recent literature and look at the life and work of the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

Whats in the latest Organise!

the lives of others, including re ghters, were put in danger by other working class people. But how can this explosion of fury, sparked by yet another police killing of a young black man, not be seen as poli cal? The social and economic rela ons that allow some to revel in luxury whilst the majority are supposed to look In Organise! #76 we very much on passively from the sidelines focussed on the issue of what underpin everything that took cons tutes legi mate violence place. Anarchists were involved in and the necessity of wrestling helping our communi es interpret the right to dene this from even what took place and to turn the the more liberal le . This was in spotlight on a state and media the context of rio ng by students that, since the Blair government, and the Black Bloc in response has undertaken a systema c policy to the cuts. We know that we in demonising and criminalising echoed the views and values of the young. Anarchists have been many anarchists in this. The mat- part of amazing street mee ngs ter con nues to be important for and community ini a ves that did our movement as it also address- not seek to iden fy and margin-

alise rioters as feral, inherently criminal or as some terrifying underclass opera ng in the shadows. Anarchists are also suppor ng those hundreds of young people now being vic mised in the courts and threatened with loss of benets and of the evic on of their en re family from social housing. Faced with a hos le and ignorant mass media, such grass roots ini a ves are le to tell their own story, with UK anarchist bulle ns and newspapers being an important medium for this. The oldest and most historically independent and respected of these, Freedom, has been forced by produc on costs to change from being a fortnightly to a monthly publica on, although it s ll aims to become an essen al voice of the anarchist movement, promo ng UK anarchism, broadening out the range of topics to connect with a growing readership (addi onal sec ons will include sport, art, interviews, lifestyle) and repor ng on the important issues of the day from a radical perspec ve. To support the paper and get involved, or to submit ar cles, contact the editor at Whilst the anarchist press more generally evaluates its future in a world where on-line publicaons and new social media are an increasingly important and more immediate way of ge ng an anarchist perspec ve on the world, it is vital that we support our printed media too. The AF prints and distributes thousands of copies of the only na onal anarchist free sheet, Resistance, but has had to downsize this because of costs. As such we direct you to our own press appeal too (p. XX). Interna onally the levels of struggle have rarely been higher. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets as the European economy collapses in the face of that not only exploita ve but illogical system they call Capitalism. Anarchists are ac ve in all of the coun es in the EU and its immediate neighbours, encouraging the emergence of mass-movements within them that are decentralised and also inclusive of migrant labour, such as the recent No Border camp in Bulgaria: h p:// What has taken place and is s ll unfolding in North Africa and the Middle East also makes us op mis c. Issues of social class and economic inequality are emerging clearly within what are in any case rela vely progressive movements against unaccountable power and tyranny. Even though bourgeois values are what drive the new pro-democracy leaderships, the working class in these countries appears not to be undermining its own interests in favour of patrio c, na onalis c, clan or tribal-based values. We sense that western-backed representa ve democracy will triumph in the short term, but that like the regimes it replaces it will soon be tested and found wan ng. This is where libertarian values must come to the fore and in turn be evaluated. Through various channels, including through the Interna onal of Anarchist Federa ons, we hear of anarchist organising in the southern Mediterranean and Middle East, hopefully boos ng groups such as Anarchists Against the Wall, who have been struggling heroically against the Israeli state for years without succumbing to anyones na onalism. A mee ng to be convened by our own interna onal, the Interna onal of Anarchist Federa ons at Saint-Imier in August 2012 (see below) aims to bring libertarians of the European and African Mediterranean and Middle East together for the rst me. We have delved deeply into some historical events in this issue at the expense of bringing you anniversary ar cles on The Ba le of Cable Street (1936), Kronstadt (1921) or Luddism (the rst communiqu of Ned Ludd was issued in November 1811). There is plenty to be read about Kronstadt from an informed anarchist perspec ve, although Luddism s ll lacks a good anarchist analysis - one not sen mentalising the pre-factory exploita on of tex le workers, or making anachronis c links between issues raised by modern and premodern technologies. The majority of Luddite ac vity followed the Winter of 1812, and so we hope to remedy this omission in Organise! #78. Also in the next issue we will bring you more informa on about the massive anarchist gathering taking place from the 9th to 12th August 2012, marking another anniversary: one hundred and forty years since the founding of the rst anarchist interna onal (see advert on p. 47). Finally, with our great sorrow but in memory of his amazing life and great contribu on to Anarchist Communism, this issue of Organise! is dedicated to our much loved comrade Bob Miller, who we and his family lost to cancer quite suddenly over the Summer. We miss him and will always miss him, in so many ways. You will nd our obituary for him inside.

Anniversary Issue

25 years of the Afed

As we celebrate 25 years of the Anarchist Federa on we look at the developments in our organisaon over the last 5 to 6 years. Our rst two decades were covered in some detail in Organise! issues 67 and 42 which can be found on our website, so we wont repeat them here. Summit protests Our latest chapter begins at the end of 2005, as we were moving on from the an -G8 summit mobilisa on at Gleneagles which resulted in the largest explicitly an -capitalist event we have ever had in Britain. A erwards, many par cipants were discussing the future of the Dissent network that had been responsible for the fundraising and convergence space organisa on that had supported the an -summit ac vi es. Members of the AF were involved in a working group that was looking at the possibility of a holding a re-convergence of those involved following a couple of post-summit gatherings. We proposed that a good basis for proceeding would be an agreement that favoured the adop on of principles something like the Peoples Global Acon (PGA) hallmarks. In the end though, the Dissent network did not con nue and ac vists went their separate ways, and in hindsight it is possible to understand the reasons. Some decided to concentrate on environmental ac on and went on to establish the Camp for Climate Ac on near Drax power sta on. It is probably true to say that those

who set up the camp were not of the poli cal persuasion which would form a permanent or even a semi-permanent network based on a set of principles. Although some AF members engaged with CCA early on - un l the lack of explicit principles meant that it was impossible to address the inux of liberals, celebri es and trots - others had thrown ourselves into an -ID card campaigning and No Borders (including ac on at detenon centres and local refugee support) whilst con nuing to organise as far as possible in community campaigns and an fascist ac vity against the BNP. At the same me the anarchist social centres movement really took o and more AF members got involved with local centres. However, there was a percep on that the an -capitalist movement was not really making

waves outside of single issues, notwithstanding the threat of ecological collapse being seen by many as the main threat from capitalism and as an overarching rather than a single issue. Furthermore, as the US/UK led war on terror con nued, the London Bombings having dominated the end of the Gleneagles summit, it was clear that there was no serious movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan outside of the Stop the War Coali on which was dominated by the Socialist Workers Party. The stranglehold of the SWP on StWC eventually resulted in a split, with some of its prominent leaders leaving to form Counterre, and the war machine has con nued regardless. Out of the Shadows For the AF a general lack of coherence in the an -capitalist

movement and a seemingly impregnable neo-liberalism in wider society (plus an overbearing an -immigrant rhetoric and generally unpleasant right-wing rallying from the popular press) resulted, over the next 3 years, in some soul-searching about our role in the movement. From this an internal document Out Of The Shadows was wri en by a small number of members. The main points were that the AF needed to act more coherently as an organisa on and agree on the main projects that groups would ideally be involved in (although without compulsion) based on reaching majority agreement at na onal conferences. OOTS stressed that we should come up with a set of posi ons on everyday issues such as housing and crime that might appeal to more people outside of ac vist ghe os, and to try to become more media friendly. A widening of involvement in our ac vi es was to be encouraged by the forma on of an AF supporters group that would include people more on the fringe of the AF proper. The document also challenged the looser basis of the AF as a collec on of essen ally autonomous groups that tended to act locally and whose ac vism was directed at mainly single issue campaigning. The overall eect was the pu ng forward of a more centralist programme for the AF. ing our membership from 90 to 150, conrming us as the biggest anarchist organisa on in Britain. It was quite a shock to not only have a lot more members, but that we were for the rst me experiencing a turn-over in our The AF took the challenge seriously and discussed the document membership. Our membership in detail and this was to be a major was also becoming more mobile and more interna onal. As a reinput to our next conference. But sult we have had to contend with for some members progress was groups forming (and disappeartoo slow and so some (although ing) as members have moved not all) of the signatories le to form, along with others, Liberty & town or country. On the other Solidarity. L&S aligned itself to the hand we have beneted greatly from having more members Anarkismo interna onal project origina ng from overseas and a and also advocated a more pragma c approach to anarchist poli- greater geographical spread in cs especially in terms of anarchist general, such that we have seen sustained growth in Scotland for involvement in the mainstream example. trade union movement. Possibly this had always been the goal of The OOTS experience resulted some of those involved, uncertainty about which was the cause in some internal changes, rstly to our cons tu on where we of some acrimony, since formaon of a fac on with an agenda is iden ed a need to more clearly allowed in AF but must be openly describe our commitment to fedannounced. Members of L&S also eralism and consensus decisionmaking and to explain what we joined the Industrial Workers of meant by it. We also reduced the the World (IWW). power of our occasional vo ng at Although we lost some members conferences by changing the main the forma on of L&S, the next jority from half to two-thirds, the few years nonetheless resulted in upshot of this being that we now a rapid growth in the AF, increasvote even less than we used to.

Anarchist Federa on members protest the implementa on of iden ty cards for foreign na onals outside the EU. November 2008.

Secondly, whilst we did not agree overall with the idea of very specic posi on papers, which we felt might cause stagna on in our thinking, we realised that some of our theory would be be er grounded by referring to prac ce more o en. Over the next few years we produced pamphlets Against Na onalism in the context of the Gaza occupa ons and On the Frontline, on workplace strategy, where we explained in some detail our posi on with respect to syndicalism and the trade unions. These texts were widely appreciated by other anarchists, crea ng a level of mutual understanding that no doubt contributed to improved joint work with other organisa ons, notably the Solidarity Federa on. We also produced leaets and longer ar cles on a number of contemporary issues including environmental poli cs, such as Welcome to the Green Boss, part of an interven on at the Climate Camp mounted in the nancial district during the London G20; and also against a acks on Roma people by the neo-fascist right in Italy which was produced for a joint AF/No Borders demonstra on outside the Italian consulate in Manchester (a acks that can also be linked to evic on a empts at Dale Farm in Essex). A paper, Private versus Socialised healthcare, about Obamas health reforms in the USA that was also relevant to how anarchists view the NHS, quickly became the second most read ar cle on our website, the most read ar cle being Smash the English Defence League, wri en in the context of EDL demonstra ons that we have opposed alongside other an -racists in many towns in England. Our newest pamphlet, Introduc on to Anarchist Communism, was written to put our worldview along-

thanks to the Labour governments widening of par cipa on in further and higher educa on, and no thanks to the introduc on of loans and fees that mean you have to work whilst studying unless you have a rich family, we found more and more students iden fying with anarchist communism.
side real an -war, workplace and community struggles. A third outcome of OOTS was that we reasserted an ac ve commitment to our founding principle of recognising the vital importance of struggles for sexual equality within and without our movement. Unconsciously, or perhaps though lack of consciousness, this was missing from OOTS in its striving to make us more relevant to working class struggles (a percep on that might, wrongly, give sexual poli cs less priority). In part due to our growth in membership that made it meaningful to have these groups, both a Womens and a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) caucus were formed as part of AF which now meet separately at least once a year. In par cular, the AF has become a focus of radical an -capitalist LGBTQ ac vism with a growth in LGBTQ members, two issues of a bulle n Whats Wrong with Angry? and interven ons at several Pride events. Anarchist Conference Considering the growth of interest in anarchism being experienced since the summit protests, the idea for a large outward-facing conference was on the minds of many within the movement. At the 2008 Anarchist Bookfair in London, we announced our inten on to hold an Anarchism 2009 conference in a northern town; whilst it became immediately apparent that the Bookfair organisers and others were thinking along the same lines with an idea of Bradford revisited, echoing an important mee ng of class struggle anarchists that we had all been involved with in 1998. We eventually decided to abandon our own conference and supported the Anarchist Movement Conference that subsequently took place in London in June 2009. It is probably fair to say that this conference was most useful in ge ng class struggle anarchists in London talking seriously about the future, and that it also gave a boost to anarchist-feminist organising though the interven on of No Pretence, both good things in themselves, but also, for AF members outside London, it did not have the impact it might have had in crea ng a countrywide buzz about anarchism, and so ended up being rather more inward than outward looking a bit too much like Bradford 98 perhaps?

Students and workers Over the last few years the AF has a racted a lot of students and this had been a key element of our rapid growth in recent years. In the 1980s especially, university students were a bit of a pariah in the organised class struggle anarchist movement as a mainly privileged and self-interested group outside the experience of most working class people. But thanks to the Labour governments widening of par cipa on in further and higher educa on, and no thanks to the introducon of loans and fees that mean you have to work whilst studying unless you have a rich family, we found more and more students iden fying with anarchist communism. A major eect of the most recent increases in university fees and the cu ng of the Educaon Maintenance Allowance for younger students has radicalised educa on massively. During the university occupa ons such as the Free Hetherington, and when protest erupted into direct ac on at Millbank Conserva ve HQ, the input of libertarian poli cs was impossible to miss and we, having many members who are students and/or educa on workers, were well placed to play our part. The AF and SolFed organised a Radical Workers and Students Bloc in November 2010 as a direct contribu on to the struggle, and the rst issue of Anarchist Student was published just prior to this. We also par cipated in the January 2011 Network X conference in Manchester and a joint Radical Workers Bloc was called to take place on the 26th March TUC demonstra on against the cuts, the so-called March for the Alterna ve.

Poster for March for the Alterna ve 26th March 2011

The economic crisis, and state response to it, is of course a major turning point in general. While the Trotskyist and Labour Le see it as a chance to regroup around a le wing agenda, the red old poli cs of tradi onal trade unionism have had very li le to oer in preventing the eects of the cuts, even on their members jobs. Prior to this a glimmer of hope was evident in the Visteon and Vestas factory occupa ons. Now with the rise of UK UnCut, direct ac on has become everyday and anarchism is being openly discussed in the mainstream media, even if commentators mainly concentrate on sustaining a myth around the idea of a Black Block. Now, with the August Riots so fresh, and recrimina ons ying

about the state of our society, at least they can see that unrest cannot so easily be a ributed to this or that poli cal group. To explain our poli cs in regard to the cuts, we produced thousands of copies of a poster/bulle n, Everything weve won: they want it back, that was handed out on the March For The Alterna ve. These included contribu ons from AF members working in health and social care and students. We also produced a statement on the June 30th coordinated strike day calling for more sustained and coordinated strike ac on. The Trot par es amnesia and downright opportunism con nues in their lobbying the Labour Party or TUC, or seeking to inuence

rank and le trade unionists within them, whilst the non-unionised unemployed who will be facing the coali ons Work Programme and those whose disability allowances are being taken away are being all but ignored, as are the majority of service users who are not within easy reach of the le as they are not workers in the public sector. Other Contribu ons One thing we have developed over the last few years is a widening of our involvement in promo ng anarchism outside of our own ac vi es and publica ons. This has included ge ng regional bookfairs o the ground in Shefeld, Manchester and Bristol and suppor ng others like in Belfast and Dublin. In 2008, our No ngham group founded an anarchist cultural centre with library and archive, The Sparrows Nest, and this now contains a wealth of material; no small thanks to generous dona ons and loans from individuals, organisa ons and publishers as well as ongoing cataloguing eorts by nonAF members. Signicantly, it is about to become home to the Solidarity Federa ons historical archive. In addi on we have written more than ever for other papers of the movement, including a regular piece for Black Flag and individual member contribu ons to Freedom and Shi , and we have contributed ar cles and interviews to overseas papers and magazines. Some of our members are involved in which has become an increasingly important online resource for anarchist communica on and publica ons. AF groups are also running their own blogs, publishing local papers, and have ini ated local publishing eorts notably in Manchester and London with Peterloo Press and Stormy Petrel. In 2008 we celebrated 100 issues of our monthly free paper Resistance and we are now close to 140. As well as joint work with the Solidarity Federa on, AF members con nue to be involved in the IWW, seeing in it a vehicle for coopera on with other militants in workplace agita on and organisaon whilst seeking to develop its poten al as a solidarity unionist body. We have not yet said much about interna onal ac vi es. Our involvement in the Interna onal of Anarchist Federa ons (IAF-IFA) has con nued and we have been especially pleased to have had the chance to strengthen links with other IAF-IFA members by parcipa ng in regular interna onal

Protest at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Sheeld 2011.

delegate mee ngs and bookfairs and hos ng overseas comrades in England. We have also formed meaningful rela onships with non-IAF-IFA groups including the recently formed Federa on of Anarchist Organising in Slovenia and groupings in Holland, Greece and Macedonia; whilst AF members have also conducted two tours of Central and South America where they met with many groups across the region. The last few years has also seen great need for interna onal solidarity and we have engaged in prac cal and moral support for comrades in Serbia, Oaxaca (Mexico), Belarus and Greece, Philippines, Indonesia, as well as Anarchists Against the Wall in Israel/Pales ne. We cannot leave 2011 without men oning the great loss we have felt from the death through cancer of our AF comrade Bob Miller in June. Bob was instrumental in ge ng our publica ons for sale online in addi on to his invaluable poli cal contribu ons (see elsewhere in Organise! for a full obituary). Conclusions It feels like the next few years will be dominated by the economic climate. As surprised as the state has appeared to be about the riots and a acks on police in our major and not so major ci es and towns, it has perhaps also been a surprise to see how quickly the gloves have come o, with threats of water cannon, denial of Facebook and the rest as well as the extremely heavy sentencing. The state has, in its rhetoric, moved on from the war on terror and its polarising suspicion of other cultures, and now sees a much larger part of the popula on as a threat to stability and business as usual. It is hard for them to maintain the

Whilst Labour is in opposi on, we wont hear the end of Tories Out from the trots, but thankfully there have been some inspiring developments in the form of UK UnCut and a radicalised student movement. This will hopefully be something to build upon. And we are growing in number as anarchist communists, so we can poten ally do more in more places.
lie that we are all in this together without completely wri ng o people as feral or scum, egged on by the populist press. The present government con nues erosion of the right to a social wage by changing legisla on to make benets or council housing even more condi onal and short term, whilst threatening removal of access to these as a punishment for unrest. This said, we have yet to see lessmarginalised parts of the working class involved in poli cal ac vity even though there have been a lot of job losses and welfare is under a ack on many fronts, including pensions, benets and healthcare. Whilst Labour is in opposi on, we wont hear the end of Tories Out from the trots, but thankfully there have been some inspiring developments in the form of UK UnCut and a radicalised student movement. This will hopefully be something to build upon. And we are growing in number as anarchist communists, so we can poten ally do more in more places. But in the AF we are certainly no cing the economic climate. It costs us a lot to publish Organise! and our other papers, pamphlets and leaets. At the same me a good many of our members have very li le income. Some of us have lost jobs recently. But we will support each other and keep going! The outcomes for the wider anarchist movement are currently a bit unclear. Organised revoluonary class struggle anarchism in Britain is less sectarian than ever and its groups are working and wri ng well on joint projects. Bookfairs are ge ng bigger and more numerous and the amount of new anarchist material being wri en and published is phenomenal. Part of this represents an accelera ng literacy in our movement as a whole, and also the legacy of access to higher educa on that so many more people have taken advantage of over the life me of the AF. This picture of harmony and growth is not, unfortunately, the case more broadly, if we include those who dene themselves as anarchists but are not in organisa ons. At the Bradford 98 conference, the rst major mee ng of minds in recent memory, one of its most exci ng aspects was the coming together of class struggle anarchists and eco-ac vists who were calling

themselves anarchists. However, over the last 5 to 6 years there has been a divergence of the same. Some of this can perhaps be put down to the dierent lifestyles that allow people to put on events like Climate Camp which require bouts of very intense ac vity. Ecoac vism has also taken a hit from police inltra on and mass arrests and this has no doubt taken its toll in terms of involvement in major new ac vi es in the last couple of years. A mee ng that took place in February decided to wind up camping as a strategy to allow new tac cs, organising methods and processes to emerge in this me of whirlwind change. In addi on to a closing statement Metamorphosis produced at the mee ng, an ar cle Climate camp is dead! Long live climate camp! appeared in the April 2011 edi on of Peace News (which, incidentally, celebrated 75 years of radical publishing this year). It indicated unresolved tensions between the need for security in camp organisa on and inclusiveness of decision-making, invoking Jo Freemans seminal text from the 1970s, The Tyranny of Structurelessness that we in AF have o en cited in our stressing the need for open and accountable anarchist organisa onal structures without which unspoken leaderships inevitably develop. The ar cle nished by asking Is it impossible to organise in large groups over the long term in a par cipatory, democra c way? How can we build a movement which not only inspires with its poli cal ac ons, but inspires day-to-day with the way it organises? and asked for help to achieve this. Hopefully this will encourage eco-ac vists to engage with anarchist organisa ons once again. At the same me there has been

Radical Workers Bloc, March for the Alterna ve, 26th March 2011

our stressing the need for open and accountable anarchist organisa onal structures without which unspoken leaderships inevitably develop.
li le enthusiasm amongst anarchists who are not in organisaons to engage with an -austerity poli cs, or indeed any kind of mass movement building, with the excep on of community orientated local organisa ons like those in London and Edinburgh who con nue to do good work around housing, green spaces and benets. Reasons for this are not hard to nd. Firstly the economic basis for the cuts is something that many non-organised anarchists have disengaged with already; in some cases having dropped out of even claiming benets, so the idea of defending pensions is a million miles away. Secondly there is an understandable gut reac on against defence of state services that, without an analysis that sees welfare provision as something won out of class conict, seems like the complete opposite of a libertarian society. Thirdly there is an ideological opposi on to mass movements which some mes manifests itself in small and secreve group organising that does not seek to explain its ac ons to a wider movement (a nihilist tendency is even gaining credence in some areas). For such people, organisa ons like the AF may seem li le removed from those of the Trots, and post-le theory only adds weight to this separa on. Internally, the AF will con nue to adjust to growth and work on scaling up our ac vi es to ensure eciency of organising whilst maintaining maximum self-organisa on in a non-hierarchical structure. We hope to a ract more members and grow further. We will engage with eorts to create a united anarchist movement in Britain and across borders. All in all, we are in for some interes ng mes ahead

The Paris Commune of 1871 and its Impact


The Paris Commune: A Contested Legacy

Here Organise! presents two dierent Anarchist approaches to the Paris Commune, which owered briey one hundred and forty years ago, in the Spring of 1871. The rst, whilst acknowledging that the Commune was an important lesson in early socialism, warns us not to fall into the trap of fe shising historical events and evaluates what was achieved in the light of subsequent anarchist thinking. The second takes the Commune on its own terms and on those of anarchists who were its contemporaries, celebra ng what was achieved by libertarians in this, ul mately awed, early a empt at social revolu on.


Lessons of the Commune

The Paris Commune of 1871 was an exci ng me for the workers movement and provided valuable lessons for the class struggle a er its fall. However, whilst the event was spectacular and many social reforms occurred and were adopted by the Third Republic that followed it, a lot of it has been exaggerated for lazy historical propaganda purposes to supposedly prove that socialism is possible through these means. As social anarchists we should analyse it without fantas cal generalisa ons so that we may draw upon the

experience of the workers during the Commune and gain understanding for our own future struggles. It does us no good to overstate the importance of any revolu onary event. The backdrop to the insurrecon was the Franco-Prussian war and the German siege of Paris, 1870-1, during which period France underwent a Republican coup deposing Emperor Napoleon III in September 1870, ending the Second Empire which had lasted since 1852. A hushed up

elec on in February 1871 brought to power unpopular monarchists and conserva ves who signed for peace with Prussia. From this period the Na onal Guard, the organised mili a formerly under the command of the French Republic, gained in strength and inuence and held onto the arms provided to it for the defence of Paris during its siege. By the 3rd March, the proletarian ba alions of the Guard, angered by the a empted triumphal entry into their city by the Prussians defected from the government of Adolphe Thiers to

form its own Central Commi ee with elected commanders. This dual military power would not do for the government. Thiers sent in ba alions of regular troops to disarm the Guard on 18th March. Parisian workers famously resisted at Montmartre in the north of the city, where an attempt to seize the cannon of the Guard was halted a er the regular army, fraternising with the Guard and local residents, arrested their generals, Clement-Thomas and Lecomte, and had them shot. Upon hearing of the insurrecon, the order was given for the evacua on of the city, although some regular ba alions chose to remain. The Guard was not united in its support for the insurrec on, however. As a commander from one of the thirty bourgeois ba alions had put it to the old commanding ocer on the eve of the insurrecon, The Na onal Guard will not ght against the Na onal Guard. Thus, the Central Commi ee took provisional control of the city and made plans to organise elec ons to the Commune, which were held on 26th March. In the few weeks before the Commune was put down, in what came to be known as the Bloody Week (21 - 28 May), progressive transforma ons took place in social, economic and poli cal relaonships. But the insurrec on was fragile, not least in military terms. A er an agreement was made with the Prussians to release French prisoners of war to aid in the re-capture of Paris, the French army entered from the west of the city taking each district one by one. Workers erected barricades to defend themselves and the Commune executed a few of its hostages in despera on including Georges Darboy, the archbishop of Paris. As the soldiers retook Paris, known and suspected communards were arrested, whilst others swept through the city se ng re to important buildings to hinder the re-occupa on of the city by the state. Those that survived Bloody Week were put on trial. Many were executed whilst others were imprisoned or exiled to New Caledonia. It is unclear how many communards were murdered and executed; the gures range from 5,000 to 50,000. Many ex-communards escaped and sought asylum in countries like the USA, Britain and Belgium and con nued their poli cal struggle there. Amnesty was not granted un l 1880. organisa ons. Mass membership of poli cal organisa ons was merely representa ve of the already-exis ng desire for social, economic and poli cal transforma on of society. In the case of Paris 1871, a report to the Interna onal Workingmens Associaon (IWA) by the Corresponding Secretary for France on the General Council, Auguste Serraillier, stated that the Interna onal was in disarray, its organisa on weak and unwilling to act as an associa on in some cases. It should be noted that the IWA in France was largely of the Proudhonist tradi on, being mutualists who believed they could make capitalism irrelevant through supposedly ignoring, undermining and nally supplan ng the state and business. The French sec on was not in a posi on to exert much poli cal inuence anyway. The Interna onal cons tuted less than one-third of the poli cal Commune; Jacobin bourgeois republicans, conserva ve and opposi onist held the rest of the seats. Anarchist communists hold that you cannot escape capitalism: it must be abolished. But the Commune overlooked the necessity for the seizure of poli cal power from the bourgeoisie.

The inuence of exis ng poli cal forms The 18th March is hailed as the date of the insurrec on and has many similari es to the beginnings of subsequent revolu ons such as that of Russia 1917, Spain 1936 and Hungary 1956, in that they were spontaneous proletarian events reac ng to the condions capitalists in power had imposed upon them. They were neither planned, nor sparked by the propagandising of poli cal

In the few weeks before the Commune was put down, in what came to be known as the Bloody Week (21 - 28 May), progressive transforma ons took place in social, economic and poli cal rela onships. But the insurrec on was fragile, not least in military terms.

onal Guard, as were many of the other coopera ves founded during this me. Even though the iron founders received a requisi on This is not to say that the soorder for a factory, they chose not cial revolu on occurring in 1871 to expropriate it from its former would have inevitably failed master but to rent it from him. simply because the IWA were a LOuvrier de lAvenir, a newspaThe chief organiser, Pierre Marc, minority fac on in the poli cal per of the me, reported y was a business owner of eight Commune. A strong desire for so- workers coopera ves, mainly cio-economic change was held by within the skilled trades, exis ng years standing and was selected to the role because he knew how to the popula on as a whole. It must in Paris in the weeks before the March insurrec on. Indeed, the run a business. The average wage be kept in mind that the ComGovernment of Na onal Dein the factory was half of what it mune was a living, and therefore fence, which took over authority was before the Commune and half con nually developing, example from Napoleon III when he was that of the workers in the associaof class struggle and important on at the Louvre. Even there, the social ques ons were being raised deposed, encouraged the setng up of workers coopera ves metalworkers demand for a wage in the proletarian quarters of the city as well as by their representa- during the Siege of Paris, through increase for dangerous work in the the handing out of large confront line was rejected; the coopves in the poli cal Commune. tracts to tex le workers to make era ves could not compete with It was because of the grassroots uniforms for the French army. private rms for contracts unless desire for change that the poli they became exploita ve themcal Commune enacted its decrees During the Commune, a empts were made to seek out the priselves. around social reform. vate owners in order to compensate them for the loss of their The fact that coopera ves were But the poli cal Commune was s ll employing the wage system factory a er its expropria on, ul mately built on the legality as a means of distribu on shows and in some cases, the private of the old regime and on the old their limita on in socialising the owners worked hand-in-hand republican tradi ons which had means of produc on, distribu on with the coopera ves, receivdominated French revolu onary ing rent, lending equipment and and exchange. When on the 19th thought. It was itself a bourgeois May the Labour and Exchange oering business advice to the republic, albeit more decentralDelega on called for a mee ng of management of these cooperaised. For instance, the Central representa ves of the cooperaves. Commi ee of the Na onal Guard, ves, only twenty-seven coopAlthough the forma on of fortyoriginally intending to hold elecera ves were represented out three worker coopera ves is ons to the Commune on 22nd of ninety-three eligible. For the March, had to delay un l the 26th some mes quoted, there were Commune to have been a success, only two of signicant size: the a er nego a ons with the old the workers would have had to mayors of Paris who ran the vo ng Socit Coopera ve des Fonremove their own poli cal repredeurs en Fer (Coopera ve Solists and had the authority to call senta ves and business owners ciety of Iron Founders) and the elec ons. and managers. In a revolu on, Associa on des Ouvriers de la Mtallurgie (Associa on of Met- capitalists and their supporters alworkers). The la er had its mu- must not be allowed to re-take Workers coopera ves and econi ons factory in the Louvre. The any ground. Workers must connomic life trol and direct the movement of former had already been set up the day before the 16th April de- produc on and distribu on within One of the major reforms that the economy of the new society as cree at a public mee ng of iron le ists and revolu onaries point a priority and destroy wage slavfounders, and so was not the towards was the April 16th deery and private ownership of the result of the poli cal Commune cree requiring that abandoned means of produc on, distribu on itself. The society was in fact set factories were to be handed to and exchange. the coopera ve associa on of the up with the support of the War Delega on for the purpose of workers who were employed in them. But in reality, this was com- producing armaments for the Na- Kropotkin also cri cised the ComAchievements and limita ons of the Commune. pa ble with capitalist economics. Worker/producers coopera ves exist to this day and are not exempt from being exploiters themselves.

mune for failing to expropriate private property, especially factories and the gold that was stored in banks within the Paris city walls, due to prejudices about property and authority. Many communards seem to have seen economic changes as secondary to poli cal revolu on. However we must learn from the lessons of struggles in the past and see the two as inseparable. The Parisian workers failed to seize their workplaces, control the economy themselves and make irrelevant the power of capital.

Kropotkin cri cised the poli cal organisa on of the commune for maintaining a governmental system of representa ves, which then became separated from the day-to-day reali es of the wider Commune, becoming conserva ve and paralysed by endless discussion, conrma on of the Anarchist cri que of representa ve systems.

and paralysed by endless discussion, conrma on of the Anarchist cri que of representa ve systems. However, if representa on is the only form of poli cal organisaon experienced or witnessed by Poli cal organisa on the wider class, there is a danger that this is what will be defaulted While those elected to the Comto during insurrec onary mes. mune were, in theory, recallable, It is therefore vital that we are they s ll had the power to make arguing for, and prac cing liberdecisions and were rela vely tarian forms of organising during centralized and cut o from the these pre-revolu onary periods people. They were representa ves when we are ac ve in community rather than mandated delegates. groups, workplaces, student strugThe former is familiar to us now; gles and tenants and residents we elect people on the basis of associa ons, both because they what they say or their declared are the best way to organise dempoli cal allegiance and they then ocra cally, and also because this make decisions for us. Throughgives condence and competence out history this form of organisain libertarian prac ces necessary on has led to abuse, corrup on to maintain revolu on. and inequality. The la er system, of mandated, recallable delegates In the end, perhaps the biggest is a libertarian form of poli cal problem with the Communes organisa on. Rather than givpoli cal system of representa on ing power to make and enforce was its ineciency. Only a small decisions to a minority, we retain number of people were trying power at a local or workplace to cope with the huge volume of level and mandate delegates with issues, resul ng in the representathe decisions we have made. The ves being inundated and not delegates are recallable if they go able to cope. On the one hand beyond their mandate. they showed how well ordinary working people can take over the Kropotkin cri cised the poli running of things, without needing cal organisa on of the commune specialized bureaucrats, but they for maintaining a governmental needed to go further and have system of representa ves, which autonomous sec ons of the city then became separated from the run things. Federalism would have day-to-day reali es of the wider been more ecient! Commune, becoming conserva ve

Women and the Commune Women were involved within the struggle, famously ini ally confron ng the soldiers who had been sent to take back the cannon on the rst day. However they faced discrimina on both within the Commune and from the victorious Government. Some progressive policies were adopted by the Commune, notably establishing day nurseries, raising the salary of women teachers to be equal to that of male teachers and improving availability and accessibility of educa on for girls and women. However the commune was too short lived for these ini a ves to be brought to frui on and womens inequality was only par ally addressed. While men gained their surage, this wasnt the case for women. Some women had an ac ve part in the defence of the commune, for example in Place Blanch where one hundred and twenty women erected and defended a barricade. However, the role of women was largely one of domes city and care, many working as nurses, such as within the Womens Union for the Defence of Paris and Care of the Injured. Most women were kept away from the barricades and front lines, but others acted as can nires, whose ocial role

was to cook, feed and nurse the male troops, although some also fought alongside the men. A er the fall of the commune, misogynis c a tudes within Paris and France were exploited in order to discredit the communards with descrip ons of petroleusses - women se ng re to buildings, to argue why order needed to be restored and to jus fy the horror of the slaughter that followed. Such imagery of unfeminine women, which is rooted in sexist a tudes to what female behaviour should be like, has been used at other mes to demonise radical movements o en with some success even amongst those who are progressive on other issues. This is just one reason why Anarchists must tackle sexism within our wider class. Radical movements o en remain macho and male dominated. gave it some libertarian avour. However events moved so fast, and decisions and structures developed by necessity so quickly, that there was li le me for theore cal arguments. Without the previous discussions, and the libertarian and socialist organising that had been taking place within the working class of Paris, which meant that much radical thought was already understood, the Commune may have looked even less progressive. However there were s ll many mistakes made, notably allowing a representa ve poli cal system to emerge and to fail to carry out an economic revolu on within the city walls. Both of these errors are easy to spot if you understand Anarchism, but during an insurrec on it is too late! It is vital that libertarian thought and ways of organising are understood and familiar to the wider working class in pre-revolu onary mes, so that these same mistakes are not repeated. Memories of assemblies from previous revolu ons gave the Parisians inspira on and models that they could draw upon, just as in Russia the experiences of 1905 meant that the concept of forming soviets within workplaces was familiar to the Russian working class in 1917 and forced the Bolsheviks to adopt the Anarchist slogan of All Power to the Soviets (although obviously this was soon betrayed by authoritarian centralism). Finally, it is signicant that a fes ve atmosphere apparently ourished within the city during the period of the Commune. This joy, energy, crea vity and high-spirits can be felt in many liberated spaces. Emma Goldman argues that culture, fes vity, music and of course dancing are an essen al part of revolu on. When we are in a space that feels freed from the shackles of capitalism and authority - even just temporarily such as during an occupa on this owering of crea vity contrasts with everyday life and nourishes the feelings of solidarity, aec on and comradeship that is both the natural product of struggling together, and it is that which keeps us going during the dark mes.

Conclusions and lessons Although much was spontaneous and unplanned, the inuence of Proudhon on the communards

Vive la Commune!
This ar cle is dedicated to all those who will turn their guns on their ocers. We revolu onaries arent just chasing a scarlet ag. What we pursue is an awakening of liberty, old or new. It is the ancient Communes of France, it is 1703; it is June 1848; it is 1871. Most especially it is the next revoluon which is advancing under this dawn. Louise Michel The Commune was the biggest fes val of the nineteenth century. Underlying the events of that spring of 1871 one can see the insurgents feeling that they had become the masters of their own history, not so much on the level of governmental poli cs as on the level of their everyday life. Situa onist Interna onal This year marks the 140th anBarricade, Paris 1871. niversary of the Paris Commune. This momentous event marked the spectacular and agonising be- ing honourably and nobly towards ginning of the period in which the each other. They are an inspira on to all those who wish to clearly working class has made consistent a empts, through revolu ons break with this society of corrupon, brutality, and of the most around the world, to break with despicable and venal apologies for the system of exploita on and inequality and to usher in a new so- human beings running the show. ciety and a new civilisa on based As Louise Michel one of the nest and most magnicent revolu onon equality and freedom. The aries who ever drew breath was to forms of organisa on developed remember of those communards by the Parisian masses, be they she had survived: To those who in ar sans, workers, unemployed, falling, have opened so wide the ar sts and writers, youth and gates of the future, through which children, women and men, are the revolu on will pass! demonstrated again and again in the revolu ons that were to break A er the disastrous Francoout throughout the twen eth Prussian War and the adventures century and into this one. They of Napoleon III, France was deare the heralds of a new way of feated by Prussia. The Prussians organising socially and of behav-

advanced to the outskirts of Paris. The Na onal Guard, a sort of home army/mili a supported by public subscrip on refused to countenance the surrender of ar llery to the Prussians, as connived at by the new republican government that had replaced the old imperial regime. This government sent in troops to regain the ar llery. They were confronted by a crowd that refused to relinquish the guns situated on the heights of Montmartre. The ocers barked out orders to re on the crowd but the soldiers refused and turned their guns on their ocers on March 18th 1871. This was the birth of the Paris Commune.

Free elec ons called by the Na onal Guard followed. They elected a council made up of a majority of old style Jacobin revolu onaries (harking back to the 1789 Revolu on) and a minority of working class socialists, mostly le -wing Jacobins, inuenced by Auguste Blanqui and those under the sway of Proudhon, who had envisaged a more libertarian and federalist form of organisa on. The Commune of Paris proclaimed Paris to be autonomous and called for the crea on of a confedera on of communes throughout France. The Commune itself was, in theory, recallable, and paid an average workers wage. It had a mandate to report back to those who had elected it. At the same me, a whole host of clubs and associaons in the Paris neighbourhoods began to develop, concerned both with the administra on of the local areas and with visions of how a new society should operate. The anarchist movement, which was developing at this point in history, was enthused by this, as its thinkers had predicted just such a development. The Russian anarchist Bakunin commented at the me, Revolu onary socialism has just a empted its rst striking and prac cal demonstra on in the Paris Commune. The Commune called for the re-opening of workplaces run in a coopera ve fashion and by May 1871, forty-three workplaces were opera ng in this way. The Engineers Union voted at a meeting on 23rd of April that since the aim of the Commune should be economic emancipa on it should organise labour through associa ons in which there would be joint responsibility in order to suppress the exploita on of man by man.

Similarly Marx and his followers hailed the coming of the Paris Commune. Marx was to write that the Council of the Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by universal surage in the various wards of the town. This majority in the nal days of the Commune voted to establish a Commi ee of Public Safety which would act to defend Paris against the advancing counter-revolu on. Those of a more libertarian bent within the Commune opposed this arguing against the dictatorship of this majority. As the anarchist Kropotkin noted, the Paris Commune did not break

with the tradi on of the State, of representa ve government, and it did not a empt to achieve within the Commune that organisa on from the simple to the complex it inaugurated by proclaiming the independence and free federa on of the Communes if no central government was needed to rule the independent Communes, if the na onal Government is thrown overboard and na onal unity is obtained by free federaon, then a central municipal Government becomes equally useless and noxious. The same federa ve principle would do within the Commune.

The Paris Commune faced two ways: backwards towards the old ways of func oning of the 1789 Revolu on, with its centralisaon, authoritarianism and terror; and forwards to a libertarian, decentralist and humane way of func oning. The old ways as represented by the central administra on of the Commune hindered and crippled the new ways as represented in the clubs and associa ons that had developed at the grassroots level. The State was not abolished and representa ve government remained in place. As Kropotkin was to note, instead of ac ng for themselves . . . the people, conding in their governors, entrusted them the charge of taking the ini a ve. This was the rst consequence of the inevitable result of elec ons with the central council ac ng as the greatest obstacle to the revolu on. He went on to note that, immobilised there by fe ers of red tape, forced to discuss when ac on was needed, and losing the sensi vity that comes from con nual contact with the masses, they saw themselves reduced to impotence. Paralysed by their distancing from the revolu onary centre - the people - they themselves paralysed the popular ini a ve. In addi on, again according to Kropotkin, the central council, treated the economic ques on as a secondary one, which would be a ended to later on, a er the triumph of the Commune . . . But the crushing defeat which soon followed, and the blood-thirsty revenge taken by the middle class, proved once more that the triumph of a popular Commune was materially impossible without a parallel triumph of the people in the economic eld. The council of the Commune

The Paris Commune faced two ways: backwards towards the old ways of func oning of the 1789 Revolu on, with its centralisa on, authoritarianism and terror; and forwards to a libertarian, decentralist and humane way of func oning.
become more and more isolated from the people who elected it, and thus more and more irrelevant. And as its irrelevance grew, so did its authoritarian tendencies, with the Jacobin majority creating a Commi ee of Public Safety to defend the revolu on. The Commi ee proved to be inept and ineectual and in prac ce was ignored by the Parisian masses as they fought to defend their gains against the armed forces of the French government which had advanced on Paris. On May 21st, government troops entered the city, and seven days of erce street gh ng followed. The army and armed units of the upper classes roamed the streets, shooting down batches of Communards, women, men and children. At least 30,000 people were killed in the street gh ng, many executed a er they had surrendered. Their bodies were thrown into mass graves, some of them s ll alive. Many ed into exile, whilst many others were imprisoned for long periods of me. The appalling massacre of the a ermath of the Paris Commune le deep scars in French society which s ll exist today. The Paris Commune was the preface to whole chapters of revolu on. Let the nal words soon be wri en and let the gates swing wide for the birth of a new, free and fair society!

The Communards Wall (Mur des Fdrs) at the Pre-Lachaise cemetry, Paris.


The Anti-Cuts Movement and the Left:

A local activists perspective

being poten ally ruined, once again, by the authoritarian Le ! As usual, it is the Trotskyists who, having won inuence within the struggle because of their numbers and resources, are now set to derail it. As the Alliance for Workers Liberty say on their website: Our priority is to work in the workplaces and trade unions, supporting workers struggles, producing workplace bulle ns, helping organise rank-and-le groups. But thats not where this struggle will be won. Workers organisa ons of any sort are only part of the picture, and trade unions are legally castrated and eec vely selfinterested at that. We cant aord to let the Le divert the eorts of grass-roots ac vists into helping them win inuence within the trade unions, which seems to be the latest turn in this experiment with working with the Le .

The way to defeat the cuts, or to get close enough to ra le the State, is clear to the Anarchist Federa on. It maps neatly on to our strategy for encouraging a culture of resistance in everything we are involved in. This means struggle in many types of arena, and at dierent scales: neighbourhoods, ci es, communi es of iden ty, as recipients of welfare, in the workplace, and service user groups, for example. It means people gh ng to defend their own interests but through this ac vity, realising that the state cannot provide for us; and if the State does make concessions, it does not do so because they are in our interests. Through struggle and through analy cal reec on on the fu le process of beseeching the state, it becomes clear that we have to link up in a mass movement of generalised resistance. Resis ng in the interests of our own cause alone only

wins temporary gains that can be taken away again. Common cause and mutual solidarity, if structured on a mass level, take us one step closer to a society that recognises that social revolu on the collec ve abolion of property and hierarchical social rela ons - will eliminate the need to have to struggle ever again. The an -cuts movement is an obvious example of a culture of resistance; it is where pockets of resistance meet, all the be er because it is happening spontaneously. Once again the class is ahead of the propagandists! Anarchists have to point out to the everyday heroes of the struggle that they are ac ng like anarchists, free from the constraints of reformism and representa ve democracy, prac cing direct acon and direct democracy. Except that mass resistance is

The Le We say experiment, because it has been just that. The vast majority of anarchist ac vists wouldnt touch the authoritarian Le with a bargepole. Many Le par es openly admit that on the eve of a successful revolu on, they would have to eliminate anarchists! But thats not the real reason we dont enjoy working with most of them. Its because of their manipulave and decei ul a tude to the working class (its dicult to come up with a be er deni on of the Transi onal Demand than that). Also, its because they fe shise the state to the extent that they willingly collaborate with it at the

same me as Figh ng the Tories, or the EDL and BNP. Lots of them fe shise the Labour party too, being in it or hoping to get back in, to inuence it from within (Alliance for Workers Liberty) or building in parallel to it (Socialist Party) and much of their ac vity is in response to Labour rather than in response to class interests. O en there is naked sectarianism, for example in the acrimony between the Right to Work campaign (Socialist Workers Party) and Na onal Shop Stewards Network (eec vely Socialist Party). Other problems include their propensity to duck in and out of struggles in ways that make it clear that they subordinate local struggles to na onal ini a ves. This is alien to an anarchist way of thinking, in which na onal movements and ini a ves are built from the base up. And, at the end of the day, they run terrible mee ngs that exclude people not trained (o en formally) to dominate the content of the discourse (reformism, subs tu onism, obsession with the workplace, etc.) and the nature of that discourse (mo ons, amendments, formal hierarchy, informal deference shown to leaders, packing mee ngs and block votes, wilfully misrepresen ng what other people say, and so on). So why the experiment, when we can reliably predict the result? Firstly, because, except in major ci es, it is very dicult to launch an an -Cuts campaign that will a ract ordinary people to poli cal ac vism unless it is at once big, dynamic, socially and culturally diverse, resourceful and welcoming. Anarchists cannot provide this. Lets face it, we dont have the numbers, come from a narrower

No ngham students protest against cuts to Educa on Maintenance Allowance.

If we cant reverse the cuts, the working class is screwed. Even though we know that at some point things will probably turn sour with the Le , we know that it wont be us who proves impossible to work with; it will be the Trots. And the people who came Second, because loads of memto the campaign to be grass-roots bers of Trotskyist organisa ons are ac vists will remain as nonhard-working, reliable, straightsectarian as they can, and will reforward and personable. You can main ac vists long a er the Trots actually look forward to going for realise that they cant take the a drink with them a er the meet- group by sheer force of numbers, ing. They oer to help you with a belligerence, deceit and maniputask youve just taken on because, la on. Instead the Trots will leave as usual, no one else oered at the broad-based campaign in fathe me. They are en rely genuvour of struggle for power in the ine about the struggle and are unions. We have to play a part the hardest working in their party in not le ng them take over, as and union. They have a sense of we did in the Poll Tax struggle (v. humour, skills to share, and get on Militant, now Socialist Party), but with similarly non-sectarian mem- failed in Stop the War (v. Socialist bers of other groups. Theyve Worker Party), for example. never heard of Kronstadt; so you There follows an interview with tell them, they look horried, go an Anarchist Federa on memaway and read up on it, come back ber in No ngham about the and say sorry (its actually hapan -cuts struggle there and the pened a few mes!). AFs experience of working in a genuinely broad-based campaign Most importantly, this struggle is with the Le in it: No s Save Our simply too important to miss the Services. opportunity of building a genuinely large, broad-based campaign.

cultural background (a generalisaon, but theres truth in it), and dont have the recent track record. We state our poli cs up front and some mes that scares people. On the face of it, we arent as a racve.


Se ng up a structure with a Chair people who will make statements and decisions for you doesnt ever seem to have been considered by these groups, whereas ten years ago that was the norm. Its not non-hierarchical in quite the way anarchists mean it - some mes its more like a reec on of the structures of social media - but its non-centralised and directly democra c, in that people dont speak or make decisions on other peoples behalf without their permission.

How did No s SOS start, why were you involved, and why was it so immediately successful?

So, when the Trades Council set up a public mee ng, we went along to see if there were real In October 2010 the Anarchist people there who we could Federa on na onally had decided work with. They were there in against trying to set up either a droves. We also went to slag o na onal campaign or specically the Labour MPs theyd invited to anarchist-based campaigns in our speak. That went down very well towns. Anarchism then didnt indeed! In fact no one has ever have the interest and respect spoken on behalf of the Labour that it has since gained. So No s Party at a No s SOS mee ng AF had been trying to get local since, and it hasnt necessarily people interested in a campaign been us blocking it. So, loads of against the cuts. We were doing people wed never met before our own thing, as were other anwere wan ng to get something archists in No ngham, and o en going, and some of the people we were doing them together. But on the Trades Council who are it wasnt ge ng anywhere. Loads nice as people and genuinely of people we spoke to thought it hard-working were there. Alwas great that someone was mak- though we planned never to ing a stand, but they didnt help work formally in alliance with us make an impact. I think people the Le again a er the Poll Tax, were too overwhelmed at the we had done an -BNP and EDL scale of what we faced. We almost work with some of the Alliance managed to play a part in ge ng a for Workers Liberty and Socialist claimants group set up, but I think Party and that had gone sort of we peaked too soon! OK. And the Trades Council were going to kick start it with some It was bad ming for us too, in cash for mee ng rooms and leafthat we had just set up the Sparlets. So, we got on board. rows Nest and wanted to establish a focus for the serious study of Anarchism. We werent going to Mee ngs neglect that. It just meant that we were working ourselves into the Within a few weeks, two-thirds ground. But it would be worth it if of people at mee ngs - o en of we could help establish a broad40+ people, which is amazing for based campaign against the cuts No ngham - were people wed locally. never met before. From our rst

demo in November 2010, people joined SOS who have worked consistently hard and gone on to form No s Uncut and a couple of ini a ves around the NHS. Those people also worked for threatened projects, e.g. housing support, and were teachers, re red people, jobcentre workers, ac vists on disability issues etc. Lots of them have since lost their jobs but are s ll ac ve protec ng what remains. Along with these sorts of people, we fought hard for a non-hierarchical structure for SOS, which it has retained very eec vely. The spin o campaigns also organise non-hierarchically. This is really important. Se ng up a structure with a Chair people who will make statements and decisions for you doesnt ever seem to have been considered by these groups, whereas ten years ago that was the norm. Its not non-hierarchical in quite the way anarchists mean it - some mes its more like a reec on of the structures of social media - but its non-centralised and directly democra c, in that people dont speak or make decisions on other peoples behalf without their permission.

Sherwood Forest Anyway, weve done some great

stu. There would have been no presence at the Labour-controlled City Council mee ng that set the budget in April if not for SOS. We managed to stop the mee ng and gave the council leader Jon Collins a really hard me. Weve also helped more local an -cuts groups set up, and campaigns around libraries and to save Sherwood Forest. We set up the best an -cuts website ever: h p://no uk. OK, Im biased cos someone in the AF set it up and maintains it. We use it to support and publicise campaigns such as ones to keep schools open and to preserve ESOL provision. We also helped link up the students in No ngham Students Against Fees and Cuts with ac vists in the city. Sta and students at both universi es work together all the me now. The students inspired so much further ac vity. We helped them with a demo in support of EMA, and this brought even school and college students into the struggle. In fact that feels normal now, but then it was incredible: sixteenyear-olds chasing Collins all over the town centre, even though cuts to EMA werent actually his fault. They were so up for it! They made the connec ons: actually, he could have spoken up for students, but he didnt. Also, we ran a conference a ended by over 70 people, out of which grew groups working on the NHS, benets, educa on cuts and others that s ll exist. SOS supported re sta ons, libraries, the list goes on. SO much work! I was really proud to go on the London March 26th demo as a member of my profession alongside No s SOS and workplace colleagues. Colleagues helped us carry our brilliant SOS banner, made by teachers in SOS. I chose a ending the demo with these people over mee ng up with the AF. And a erwards, SOS people defended the black block ac on just as they had the Millbank students. I thought we might have to argue the toss over those events, but no one in No s SOS had the slightest problem with what happened. What went wrong? Well it hasnt gone wrong yet as such. Its just star ng to, and we know the signs. We managed to ride out the rst thing that nearly wrecked the campaign. It was a case of what doesnt kill you makes you stronger. It was when we got into trouble with the Communica on Workers Union. No s SOS were running a modest stall every Saturday in the town centre. One Saturday, down the road there was going to be a big na onal CWU demo in support of their dispute. On the e-mail list someone pointed out that this would mean that we might be short on volunteers for the stall. The main guy in the CWU went ballis c that we werent going to cancel our stall for their rally! This was even though the implica on of the e-mail was that most people who usually volun-

Members of No s Save Our Services protest the Health and Social Care Bill, 6th September 2011.

teer would be at the rally instead. The CWU guy took his complaint to the Trades Council. He was basically saying that SOS was being an -union. The TC passed a mo on supposedly unanimously (although we know that isnt true) making it clear that we had to tow the TC line or theyd stop bankrolling us. This implied that they think social struggles should be subordinated to TU-controlled workplace struggles. We see the two as equally valuable in theory, and certainly the Le dont deny that the two are connected. But there is a whole world of dierence between the workplace struggle and the trade unions. We have to be realis c; the days when the trades unions could make or break a government are gone. They dont control the Labour Party anymore. Capitalism has been far cleverer than the unions. Eec ve industrial ac on is now almost illegal, but the unions wont defy the law. So why should they be able to tell people engaged in direct acon in social struggles what to do? But SOS was on a roll by then and the campaign so broad-based that even though the AWL championed the TC mo on and made sure it got accepted, everyone else decided to eec vely ignore it. We all thought it was a bit silly really. What was the worst that they could do in prac ce? The people who ran the stalls carried on doing stalls and suppor ng workers. We also started making collec ons for rooms and the NUT and NUM rered chapter started prin ng leaflets for us! So it wasnt the case that trade unionists as a whole felt threatened by our increasingly autonomous campaign. Meanwhile other ini a ves were springing up. Everyone knew

One of the best local victories was anarchistinspired. It prevented the cu ng of outpa ent services at Hayward House, a hospice. The campaign sprung up overnight and mobilised terminally ill people, which scared the shit out of the Primary Care Trust. It went for the jugular on nancial, ethical and legal grounds, and forced the trust to back o and even admit they had made a mistake. It took a massive amount of work over a very short me and won by being a full-on, uncompromising onslaught of common sense!

how serious things were. Some anarchists in SOS wanted a specically anarchist campaign, and others wouldnt touch SOS with a bargepole anyway. The result Anarchists Against the Cuts is small but has done creave stu, made an interven on with propaganda, and brought some people out of the woodwork. Weve been involved since the beginning, even though its strategy doesnt make as much sense to us as being in an organisa on that people can actually meet, work with and join if they agree with it. We some mes do the same theore cal groundwork twice, in AF and then in AATC, and feel a bit constrained by synthesis groups anyway. But there are spin-o campaigns where AATC, AF, SOS and UnCut etc. overlap, and Le and nonaligned people know that the anarchist movement in No ngham isnt just AF (which it certainly isnt).

overnight and mobilised terminally ill people, which scared the shit out of the Primary Care Trust. It went for the jugular on nancial, ethical and legal grounds, and forced the trust to back o and even admit that it had made a mistake. It took a massive amount of work over a very short me and won by being a full-on, uncompromising onslaught of common sense! But victory had not a li le to do with the fact that the people ini a ng the campaign volunteers and fundraisers for the hospice were also long-standing anarchist ac vists who know how to win. This all happened before SOS had even undertaken any support work! So there is evidence that anarchists dont necessarily ght the cuts best as part of SOS. Is that why you are despondent about the broad-based campaign?

In part. But its also because weve entered another phase in which the Trotskyists have reOne of the best local victories grouped and decided they havent was anarchist-inspired. It prebeen focussing on the workplace vented the cu ng of outpa ent enough. I was on a sort of ad-hoc services at Hayward House, a hospice. The campaign sprung up commi ee that was organising

the No ngham events on June 30th. Representa ves of the three striking unions were part of it: NUT, UCU and PCS, and other people suppor ng us, notably No ngham Students Against Fees and Cuts (although they quickly realised that they were being patronised and could support the strike be er in other ways). At the end of the day, when it comes to the crunch, trade union ac vists have to be more concerned with their members sec onal interests than in wider struggle. NUT members werent very interested on the whole in anything other than their pensions (Im not saying thats not important; we are rightly suppor ve of workers with good terms and condi ons maintaining them as a way to encourage less privileged workers to make a stand for their own rights). Their ocers include AWL members, who are poli cally miles ahead of those narrow sec onal interests. The ocers agreed to a demo that would march past places like the homeless shelter, NHS direct, ATOS, Oce Angels and the banks. Then the NUT ocers started messing us around and changing the arrangements, because when theyd gone back to their members theyd had a right telling o! Theyd made decisions for their members see what I mean? They had to come back and tell us that no, they were going to have the usual A-B march and then have an indoor rally. The biggest demo No ngham had seen for years, and they wanted to take it indoors to discuss NUT pensions! The NUT also started making up stu about the police and council being obstruc ve about logis cs for an outdoor rally, which wasnt true. The UCU and PCS ac vists

were furious. One mee ng got so acrimonious that the chair had to intervene at one point and tell a par cularly belligerent person to take it outside! The ocial and unocial representa ves of both UCU and PCS crossed over massively with SOS, No s. Uncut, NSAFC, and were completely in agreement with the idea of making the march and

rally an in-your-face-Cameron protest about the Cuts generally. Given that it was on a weekday too, so places were open, this could actually have terried ATOS out of business! I really think so. We had some good stu planned. Instead, the only aspect of social struggles that got a look in at the rally was SOS and the NHS campaign. We were allowed to speak on the pla orm, but last, when

almost everyone had gone home nothing at all to the rest of the working class, who either cant We havent really recovered from unionise or dont see the point. that demo. We worked so hard as I would say to any of them, you SOS to support the striking unions, should join a union to protect but I dont think either we or the your interests, and if theres PCS and UCU will work with the anyone in your workplace up for NUT again. And the AWL came a ght, thats where youll meet out of it looking like opportunists. them. But if they asked where To be honest, I think we also lost the poten al for class struggle credibility as anarchists. I wasnt really is now, Id point them in able to argue our corner, and I was other direc ons. there informally represen ng our workplace campaign group. To be honest, I felt too in midated to So is that it for No s SOS, as far say anything much. as you are concerned? Straight a er, it was the Bombardier stu. All the Le groups wanted us to drop everything and pile over to Derby, there even before wed established that this wasnt going to be some na onalis c German-bashing thing (which it wasnt). We actually had a really good discussion and I was impressed by the unforced internaonalism of all three Le groups. But again, they wanted inuence in there. I think they wanted to take No s SOS over to Derby to get kudos. We couldnt go anyway, but wed have gone as anarchists, not in some Trot rent-a-demo. And at the same me, every mee ng started ge ng TU focussed again, discussing how bad the internal poli cs of, for example, Unison are, and how we need to get socialists elected within them. Dont get me wrong, there are No s SOS ac vists Id far rather have represent me or have inuence within my union than some New-Labourite. In par cular, there are several people in Unison in No ngham and No s. who are in or around Le Par es who are genuinely great people. But at the end of the day everyone (else) knows that the Le s struggles for control of the unions means Not at all. Theres s ll loads of poten al. There is a tendency at the moment for non-aligned people or people in poli cal minori es to be despondent, and several have eec vely and even ocially le the campaign. But I dont think theres been a me when anarchist ideas have had more inuence. It no longer feels utopian to call for occupaons, mass assemblies, blockades, sabotage, non-compliance etc. People in No ngham are not afraid of these things. I was amazed how much support the students had last year, for example. No s SOS had people in it very new to poli cal ac on and they thought the student riots and occupa ons were brilliant. No s. UnCut shuts down 3 or 4 business of a Saturday in and gets a really good crowd. People stand and listen to them. The NHS campaign occupied a huge roundabout in town for hours (it also hung a life-size egy of Andrew Lansley, which was a bit controversial!). I think No s SOS should be a hub and a support for these and even more daring sorts of direct ac on. In itself, it cant be radical because it cant seem to do anything public without informing the police and Labour City Council at some point. Thats because the Le s ll have this split personality where they both cri que and fe shise the LP at the same me, insis ng that its membership is be er than its leadership. Thats only a meaningful analysis if the membership can control the leadership, which it cant. Thats what happens when you elect people to make decisions on your behalf! Some of the le ac vists actually stood as Labour councillors and got in, and we havent seen them since at SOS; inevitably, because they are now representa ves of a party that is pro-cuts! At the end of the day, when you look at the website which you should - we havent actually done our most impressive work as SOS. Rather, its been the groups SOS has spawned, fostered and championed. We bring these together in one place in a way that no other organisa on possibly can. But at the end of the day, SOS is a little too mid. Its clear that even though people will say they support the idea of, say, a student-led occupa on of a city centre building, they might wander along, but they wont commit to anything that might marginalise workplacefocused ac vism. They dont really get it. So SOS should con nue, but either try to free itself from this iner a or maintain its role as a focal point. It cant go down the reformist route and be beholden to the trades unions. Members of the Le organisa ons have a choice. They have to ask themselves where their priori es lie and be honest about it.



The Great Unrest: Prelude to the Storm

Miners wai ng to go into the mass mee ng at Empire Theatre, Tonypandy, 9th November 1910

The Great Unrest refers to the period between 1910 and 1914 when the western world was convulsed by social and industrial strikes and disorder, reaching a peak in 1913 and only ending (though not en rely s ed or silenced) by the beginning of the Great War of 1914-18. The wave of strikes in Britain saw millions

of workers ght over wages and condi ons with the most militant methods. Total union membership grew from 2,477,000 in 1910 to over 4 million by the end of 1913 and brought state rule to breaking point. Industrial militancy in the 1910s reached a new level. Strikes rose

from 389 in 1908 to 872 in 1911 and over 1400 in 1913. In 1909 only 170,000 Bri sh workers had struck, in 1911 the gure rose to 961,000. 91 percent of transport workers and 62 percent of miners par cipated in strikes between 1910-13. In 1911 the rst naonal rail strike was called and in 1912 the rst ever na onal coal

strike. The printers strike of 1911 led to the establishment of a new workers daily newspaper - the Daily Herald. This mass wave of strikes and protests spread across all industries and all classes of workers. In Bermondsey, South London, 15,000 women workers from over 20 factories - many in food processing, a notoriously low-paid and sweated occupa on - came out on strike in 1911, one of the biggest strikes by women workers in the Unrest, winning be er terms and the right to organise in a union. of armed conict if troops were used to break the strike. Daily mass demonstra ons were held throughout East London in support of the strikers, some numbering over 100,000 strong. The strike was solid and won. What Was The Cause Of The Great Unrest? By 1910, ci ng nancial constraints, the Liberal governments earlier reforms were coming to an end. Industrial grievances were building over poor working condions, discipline at work, and the failure of wages to keep pace with rising prices. Yet unemployment remained low, meaning there were fewer people available to the bosses to be used as blackleg labour. Low wages and the sense that an enriched middle class was holding down pay, a third of the popula on below the poverty line, ill health, infant mortality, and oppressive government and police were real and inammatory grievances. At the same me, the struggles of women for the vote and for Home Rule in Ireland were reaching a crisis point. In the course of the struggles these movements raised ques ons about the posi on of the working class and disenfranchised under capitalism and the legi macy of the capitalist state. One of the crucial years in this period was 1911, a year when the country came close to the collapse of the ruling elites, will to govern and the replacement of a free market capitalism with then-current forms of socialism and syndicalism. The historian George Dangereld, in his book, The Strange Death of Liberal England, says the working class took a revolu onary course and might have reached a revolu onary conclusion. Trotsky agreed: In those days a dim spectre of revolu on hung over Britain. The tragedy of the period is that it did not lead to any signicant change in social rela ons but rather intensied them and made WWI possible by the deple on of the working class

Dockers In Liverpool this victory spread condence and 4,000 Liverpool dockers walked o the job in June. Other groups of workers followed. By the end of the day 10,000 were out. The seafarers came back out in support of the dockers. The dockers won the strike, promp ng tug boat and ferry workers, coopers, labourers, porters, brewery workers and workers at the rubber plant to strike in turn. The strikes united Protestant and Catholic workers in a city riddled with sectarianism. In July and August a wave of unocial rail strikes broke out as wage nego a ons (workers called them conscaon boards) broke down. These strikes were largely spontaneous, wildcat strikes. 50,000 workers were out on unocial ac on before the union leaders even got involved. Mass working class resistance, driven by rank and le workers and inuenced by socialist militants such as Tom Mann, Ben Tille and James Connolly, combined across industries, gaining condence from each other and with each victory. Lenin observed, the workers have learned to ght. They have discovered the path that will lead them to victory. They have become aware of their power.

First shots The rst shots in this class war had been red in 1910 when over 300,000 miners in South Wales struck and remained on strike for almost twelve months. It was triggered in September by 70 miners in a dispute over tonnage rates paid by the Cambrian Combine. It was a bi er dispute with pitched ba les between strikers, troops and police brought in from London, who were assis ng scab labour to break the strike. In Tonypandy one striker was killed and 500 injured. Though eventually defeated, the example of the miners and how they organised, from the bo om up and led by socialist militants, inspired other workers. In May 1911, seafarers started unocial strikes over union recogni on and working condi ons. In June a wave of strikes broke out over pay and condi ons on the docks in Southampton, Cardi and Hull, joined by workers in Manchester and London. The London dockers were faced by an alliance of bosses and the state: Winston Churchill threatened to dispatch 25,000 troops unless the workers accepted defeat to which dockers leaders warned

will to ght its enemy, the capitalist ruling class. The Llanelli Railway Strike 1911 saw the rst ever na onal railway strike and the last me that soldiers red on striking workers (killing two) though not the last me that strikers have been murdered by those defending the status quo. One of its most important events occurred in Llanelli in South Wales, but the Llanelli Riot was just one of a series of strikes and militant ac on by workers that make the recent events look like a tea party. Merseyside rail workers began unocial strikes in July 1911, and soon 15,000 workers were out. 8000 associated transport workers joined the strike in solidarity. The strikes arose from the increasing impoverishment or railways workers and families, and the long hours and dangerous working condi ons they faced. A third of railway workers were paid less than 1 a week. It was usual for them to work sixty hours a week and some mes seventy hours or more. Over me was compulsory and frequently unpaid. Between 1897 and 1907 more than 5,000 had been killed and 146,000 injured in industrial accidents.

Troops camped near Llanelli during the Railway Strike, 1911.

of the government panicked. Home Secretary Winston Churchill declared, The men have beaten us. We cannot keep the trains running. We are done! Troops But the ruling class was not done quite yet. In a day long ba le inImmediately groups of up to cluding a bayonet charge against 1,000 workers a acked signal unarmed strikers, 700 troops boxes manned by scabs, tore up took control of the railway. But track, blocked the lines and dethe next day, the workers hit stroyed the railway telegraph. In back. They stoned police and solChestereld, strikers set the stadiers and blocked the tracks. A on ablaze. 50 troops of the West detachment of 80 soldiers under Yorkshire regiment reinforced the Major Stuart tried to clear the police and made repeated bayoline at bayonet point. The crowd, net charges into the workers. The rather than disperse, surged up government then mobilised over the embankment and hurled Rail union leaders were cau ous 50,000 troops. In a rare outbreak abuse and the occasional stone but could not resist the anger and at the troops. The Riot Act was militancy of their members. Unof- of honesty, the general in charge cial strikes occurred in Swansea, intoned Nothing could have been read and Major Stuart ordered more harmonious or easier than his troops to open re. Leonard Hull, Bristol and Manchester and then spread. Faced with this situ- my rela ons with the railway mag- Worstell and John John were nates. killed. John John - Jac as he was a on and an absolute refusal to known - was a local rugby star. consider the workers demands, In Llanelli, strikers had seized Leonard Worstell, who had just the leaders called a na onal railway buildings to halt any move- le a sanatorium where he had general strike on the railways. ment along the line, ac on supbeen treated for TB, had simply 200,000 railway workers joined ported by broad sec ons of the le his kitchen where he was the strike. The general secretary working class locally, especially in shaving to see what the fuss was of the Amalgamated Society of the nplate factories which domi- about. Railway Servants, announced the nated the town. Some members

strike empha cally enough: War is declared, the men are being called out.

Children Rather than cowing the workers, this led to an explosion of anger. Pickets halted a train carrying supplies to the army and wrecked the carriages. The goods yard was destroyed. Almost 100 railway carriages were burnt and soon the strikers were a acking the homes and businesses of the magistrates and town council. There was looting in Market Street and dozens of shops had their windows smashed and goods stolen. A wagon carrying explosives blew up, killing one man and severely injuring several more, three of whom died soon a er. Children at Bigyn School in the town decided to strike as well, boyco ng lessons to mark the unjust killing of John and Worstell. Eventually however, the union leaders sought compromise and were bought o with a commission and concessions, provoking anger but also fuelling the sense of the latent power of industrial organisa on and militancy. Three unions merged to form the Naonal Union of Railwaymen and had soon recruited a further 90,000 members. The strikes demonstrated that even workers with no tradi on of militancy and with mid or bureaucra c leaderships can explode into ac on. Militants of the me, anarchist and syndicalist, understood the violence of the state, but they did not fully grasp the way bureaucracy could s e militancy.

School students on strike at Bigyn school, Llanelli, 1911.

Children were not isolated from events around them, their parents would have been directly aected by the strikes and they fully understood that their own prospects in work depended on victory or defeat in the present struggles.
produce industrial labour, were organised on the basis of severe discipline, physical punishments and rote learning. On 5 September 1911 thirty or so boys marched out of Bigyn School, this me to protest over a caning. Within days, pupils in more than sixty towns throughout Britain had taken to the streets to express their own grievances. By the end of the week the strike had spread to schools in Liverpool, Sheeld, Birmingham, London, Glasgow and other ci es. The school strikes of 1911 were not unique. The rst na onwide strikes occurred in 1889 and took place during a me of widespread industrial unrest. Children were not isolated from events around them, their parents would have been directly aected by the strikes and they fully understood that their own prospects in work depended on victory or defeat in the present struggles. Strikers ac vely sought to unite the whole community - including children - in their struggles. And the students on strike ac vely debated the merits of the strikes and what should be done. The students chalked demands on the pavement: the aboli on of home lessons and the cane and an extra half-holiday in the week. While some protests were violent - boys in the East End of London armed themselves with s cks and iron bars - most were not, but are important because of the way young people gathered together to

The Young Take To The Streets The boyco of lessons in Bigyn School to mark the deaths in Llanelli was the forerunner of more serious resistance among young people. Schools in Britain, li le more than factories to


Strikers at the monster demonstra on of 13th August 1911, before the police a acked.

discuss, ar culate and then press demands, not just about discipline but also hours, leaving age and holidays.

The Liverpool Transport Strike In June 1911, seafarers had won major concessions from the bosses as a result of mass, coordinated strike ac on, backed by sympathy ac on in other ports and mass rallies by workers in support of the strike. Understanding the lessons to be learnt, 4,000 dock porters struck on 7 August, followed by another 6,000 coal-heavers and carters. A citywide strike commi eeincluding, vitally, the rail workersagreed that all transport workers would add their support through sympathy strikes. The next day, 4,000 railway workers struck; the docks were closed and no goods trains ran. Soon, the strike commi ee had taken the leadership of the

70,000 strikers in Liverpool away from the union ocials and controlled most of the citys industrial life. Goods could only be moved with the agreement of the commi ee and factories ground to a halt. The authori es were powerless. But the commi ee allowed the movement of food, coal, petrol and other necessi es to keep hospitals and other vital services opera ng. It wasnt anarchy, but a city being run on dierent principles nonetheless. Detachments of police and military were despatched to the city from Leeds and Birmingham. 200 ocers from the Royal Irish Constabulary together with 400 troops of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment were greeted with boos and catcalls outside Lime Street Sta on. The Lord Mayor asked for addi onal police, and troops, from the Scots Greys, the Hussars and The Yorkshire Regiment arrived in the city. In total an extra 2,400 police and 5,000 troops were in the

city while HMS Antrim anchored in the Mersey, its guns trained on the centre of Liverpool. These 7,000 troops and special police had turned the city into an armed camp. One observer recalled the stench of the unscavenged streets - the corpora on workers had come out in sympathy and of the truck loads of vegetables ro ng at Edge Hill Sta on. I remember bits of broken bo le, relics of ba les down by the docks, the pa er of feet walking the pavements when the trams ceased to run, the grey HMS Antrim lying on guard in the Mersey, the soldiers marching through the streets. When the strikers held a family day on Sunday 13th August, police and troops a acked it, sparking several days of street gh ng. The movement soon reached civil war propor ons. Residents of working class districts in north Liverpool erected barbed wire

barricades. A mass demonstra on at St Georges Hall in central Liverpool was brutally a acked by the police and pitched ba les spilled into the streets. Mounted police ocers charged the crowd and, a er a lengthy resistance and numerous baton charges, cleared the area. The Liverpool Echo reported the gh ng as a scene which reminded one of the turbulent mes in Paris when the Revolu on was at its height. The Liverpool s pendiary magistrate, surrounded by troops of the Warwickshire RegiTom Mann, syndicalist and chair of the Liverpool Transport Strike commi ee, ment, read the Riot Act.
addresses a mass assembly of workers.

Trouble erupted nearby with police and troops pelted with missiles from roof tops. Police cleared the roo ops and ordered that public houses be closed. The events of this Bloody Sunday were followed by three days of guerrilla warfare in the streets and neighbourhoods of the city. Five prison vans carrying some of those arrested at the rally, escorted by cavalry, were a acked in order to rescue the prisoners. Two dockers, Michael Prendergast and John Sutclie, were killed by soldiers guarding the convoy. The following day virtual mar al law was imposed on the city - as it had been in London - but s ll the strike con nued and by the end of the month, a er threats of sympathy ac on from other sec ons, the employers gave in and sued for peace on the unions terms.

Militancy What explains this militancy? Large areas of Liverpool consisted of poor proper es, back-to-back terraced houses, occupied by large families, some mes two families to a room. They had communal sanitary and washing facili es, poor sanita on, and associated

diseases like diphtheria and tuberculosis were rife. Working condi ons in Liverpool were extremely poor, with most of the labour employed in the docks, warehousing and transport. Unlike other major towns, Liverpool did not have a manufacturing base and people were employed and discarded on a casual basis. Decades of Tory rule in the city, an authoritarian police and municipal government, grievances ignored, workers scorned and to be disciplined by the Bible, hunger and the police truncheon, these provided fer le ground for social unrest. But it was the powerful rhetoric and organising power of syndicalist militants which directed the working class against its enemy - the owning classes - and gave them the means to challenge them: the industrial mass strike.

Lessons What lessons can we learn from the events of 1911? Firstly, that no ma er how beaten the working class appears to be, how disorganised, ill-led or divided within itself, it has a tremendous

capacity for sudden and spontaneous, organised and collecve ac on, led from below and with terrible strength. Secondly, that such movements gain their power from anger and grievances grounded in the objec ve facts of everyday life: poverty, ill-health, authoritarian governments and elites, unfair treatment in work and other aspects of life, the enrichment on one group of people (the ruling class and its allies) and the rela ve impoverishment of the rest. Thirdly, that such movements will be weakened and may ul mately be defeated if they rely on representa ve leadership rather than direct democracy. As syndicalists pointed out in 1911, based on bi er experiences in the South Wales miners strike, The possession of power inevitably leads to corrup on. All leaders become corrupt, in spite of their own good inten ons. No man was ever good enough, brave enough or strong enough to have such power at his disposal as real leadership implies.

The Paris Commune of 1871 and its Impact


Revolutionary Portrait:
Eugene Varlin, Martyr of the Paris Commune
Eugene Varlin was born on 5th October 1839 near Clayes-Souilly in France, into a poor family. His father, an agricultural day labourer, also had a small piece of land to grow vegetables. His grandfather on his mothers side had supported the 1848 revolu on and he suered under Louis Napoleon. His stories had a big inuence on Eugene. Eugenes father hoped that his son would study and not be condemned to hard toil all his life like so many others in the neighbourhood. He a ended school un l 13 and then took an appren ceship as a bookbinder with his uncle in Paris. He took evening courses at the same me, even learning La n and dis nguished himself in his studies. Varlin became conscious of the need to organise and joined the Bookbinders Society at the age of 18. This society concerned itself with sickness benets and re rement sums and he sought to make it more militant. In 1864, already on police les, he took part in his rst strike and became a member of the strike commi ee. His agita on in the Society led to his expulsion from it and he now set up his own bookbinders associaon which grew to three-hundred members by 1870. At the same me he organised a cooperave restaurant and a coopera ve shop. In an a empt to turn the workers socie es in a more militant

direc on he called for the crea on of a Federa on of Parisian Workers Socie es which was created in 1869. During the strike wave of 1869 he set up a strike fund, not devoted to one trade but for all workers on strike. Eugene became a socialist, adopting the mutualist outlook of Proudhon, situa ng himself on the le of that current and act-

ing among the an -authori ans within the First Interna onal which he joined in 1865. He advanced the ideas of federalism within it. He began wri ng for the weekly paper of the First Interna onal, La Tribune Ouvriere. He was one of the four French delegates at the London conference. He was unimpressed by the London leadership of the Internaonal, preferring the company of

Marxs daughters to that of their father, and waltzing with them throughout the last evening! However, Varlin felt the need to con nue to work within it. He was opposed to the Proudhonist posi on which said that women should stay at home and not work in the factories. He had mee ngs with Bakunin and James Guillaume, represen ng the libertarian current within the Interna onal. With the banning of the Interna onal in 1868 he was ned and served 3 months in prison. He developed a collec vist posi on, becoming coordina ng secretary of the workers socie es. He believed the socie es could be a place to train people for a future society. At the end of 1870, a er having set up sec ons of the interna onal in Lyon, Lille and Creusot, he had to ee to Belgium. With the fall of Napoleon III and the se ng up of a government of na onal defence in Paris, he returned there and founded the vigilance commi ee of the Fourth Arrondissement. He became delegate to the central commi ee of twenty arrondissements, where he was in charge of nance. Head of a Garde Na onale ba alion, Eugene, with his libertarian outlook, felt that this had to be aligned to the workers movement and that its leaders be elected and subject to instant recall. However he resigned from the ba alion when it failed to accept his sugges ons. He saw that the new government was prepared to make a deal with the Prussians and to ee Paris for Versailles. When this government a empted to seize the cannons at Montmartre, Eugene Varlin was among those who took part in the subsequent insurrec on, with the ba alions of the Ba gnolles district taking control of the area.

Communards about to destroy the Tour Vendme in Paris, 1871.

On the 26th March, as a member of the Interna onal, he was elected to the Council of the Commune, being the only delegate to be elected in 3 arrondissements. He served on the nance commi ee, nally passing to the commi ee for military supply. With his experience of coopera ves he now set up clothing workshops, one of which was directed by Louise Michel. He also became secretary of the Council of the Interna onal, maintaining links between the Commune and the workers socie es.

During the Bloody Week, with the advance of the troops of the Versailles government, he led the defence of the Sixth and Tenth Arrondissements, gh ng from barricade to barricade. The Versaillais troops began massacres, but Varlin denounced the a empts by some Communards to retaliate with similar massacres, and tried unsuccessfully to stop the execuon of y hostages.

Recognised by a priest in the street on 28th May, Varlin was arrested. He had made no a empt to ee or to hide himself. He was tortured and beaten and then As a libertarian he was opposed nally put up against a wall and to the moves to set up a Commit- shot, his body lying on the ground tee of Public Safety to defend the for several hours. In front of the Commune, reminding himself of ring squad he cried out Vive la the role of such an organisa on Commune! in the 1789 Revolu on. He saw in it the danger of a dictatorship in opposi on to the grass roots organisa ons of the masses. He signed the declara on of the minority, yposted throughout Paris protes ng against these moves.

Anniversary Issue


The day will come: Chicago 1886

The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are thro ling today. Last words of anarchist August Spies on the gallows on November 11th 1886. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Haymarket events and the judicial murder of anarchist ac vists. Organise! looks at the background to the events, the incident and the repression that followed. This was the main reason, o en obscured and forgotten, some mes deliberately, that workers began to celebrate May 1st every year. In the summer of 1884 the Federa on of Organized Trades and Labor Unions called for May 1st, 1886 to be the star ng point for agita on for an eight hour day. As a result Chicago, with the largest group of organised workers in the USA at that me, had the largest demonstra on, with 80,000 workers marching. This stunned the employers. Some feared a coming revolu on and others quickly signed agreements for shorter hours with the same pay. Some of the organisers of the Chicago event were anarchists like Lucy and Albert Parsons. Lucy had been born a slave in Texas, with a black, na ve American and Mexican background. Her husband Albert edited the paper Alarm and was one of the founders of the Chicago Trades and Labor Assembly.

Lucy and Albert Parsons.

ing day, Chicago police a acked and killed picke ng workers at the McCormick Reaper Plant in Chicago. A protest mee ng was called for the following day. The meeting was almost over when it was a acked by police carrying ries. A dynamite bomb was hurled into police ranks and in the a ermath the police began ring, killing four workers.

alive and condemned the process that had led to the legal murder of the others Lucy Parsons con nued to ght for the memory of her murdered partner Albert. The event radicalised many and some like Voltairine de Cleyre, who had inially been hos le to the Chicago defendants, became anarchists as a result. Today a memorial to the martyrs stands in the old German cemetery in Chicago. Alongside those executed are many anarchists who chose to be buried alongside the martyrs, like Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Lucy Parsons. Chicago 1886 is a reminder both of the key role that anarchists have had in workers struggles and of the ferocious and murderous repression that the employers and the State are prepared to use. In these mes of radicalisaon of struggle, the memory of the Chicago Martyrs needs to be re-emphasised in forthcoming May Day processions so that the parades are not le to the union bureaucrats and their pals in the Labour Party.

Mar al law was declared the following day and anarchist organisers were rounded up. Many of them had not even been at the incident in the Haymarket. The two-month trial resulted in verdicts of death for seven of the defendants and een years hard labour for another. Subsequently, two had their sentences changed to life imprisonment. One of the anarchists, Louis Lingg, escaped the noose by apparently killing himself in his cell - although some have cast doubt on this as he was wai ng for a pardon that day and regard his death as mysterious. Adolph Fischer, George Engel, August Spies and Albert Parsons were hanged on November 11th of that year, crying out deant anAlbert travelled to Ohio to speak archist slogans from the scaold. at rallies there on May 2nd. How- In 1893 Governor Altgeld parever, in his absence, on the follow- doned the three defendants s ll


Anniversary Issue

The Mexican Revolution

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolu on. Organise! inves gates this extremely important and much-misunderstood event in three ar cles.


The land belongs to those who work it.

Mexico in 1910 was a land where an emerging working class was adop ng radical forms of organisa on and struggle, where the indigenous peoples were s ll con nuing their resistance against three hundred years of rule ini ated by Spain, and where the bourgeoisie itself was a empting to develop and consolidate its power against the establishment ins tu ons of the old regimes and the Catholic Church. The regime directed by Porrio Diaz represented the interests of the small group of rich owners of vast agricultural estates, and in addi on served the interests of foreign capital, including that of the USA. It was opposed by various groups within the liberal bourgeoisie who wanted a na onal revolu on to ins tute bourgeois democracy. This agreement was at rst led by Madero and Carranza. Carranza represented a group of landowners in northern Mexico who had been excluded from the regime. In addi on, there was the movement around the Magon brothers, which was evolving in an increasingly anarchist direc on, a workers movement to a lesser or greater extent inuenced by the Magonistas, and strong rural movements around Emiliano Zapata in the south and Pancho Villa in the north. The aging Diaz, in power for 34 years, announced his impending re rement which started o the period of unrest. The bourgeois opposi on advanced a candidate to the Presidency and pushed it through, rather than giving in to

Soldier during the Mexican Revolu on.

the customary compromise with the regime that was frequent in Mexico. The opposi on turned to mobilisa on of the masses to help this come about. Throughout Mexico condi ons were wildly divergent. There were s ll the free villages based on tradi onal Indian ways of organising, where land was farmed on a collec ve basis; there were the labourers on the big estates and in the mber industry in the jungles,

who were virtually slaves; there were the cowboys and ranch hands in the north, and the small farmers. Discontent had been slowly building long before the bid of Madero for power. The free villages were increasingly under threat and the big estates were expanding, propelled by the development of mills and of the sugar cane industry. Madero was a typical modernising member of the bourgeoisie,

whose aims were solely the departure of Diaz and the introduc on of democracy. He now made himself popular with a promise of land reform, having the nancial backing of several Mexican and American capitalists, as well as relying on his own personal fortune.

The Magon brothers and the PLM The movement led by Ricardo Flores and Jesus Flores Magon had had a much longer record of opposi on to Diaz. They had founded an opposi on journal Regeneracion in 1900 and soon formed the Par do Liberal Mexicano (Mexican Liberal Party) which essen ally advanced a programme of civil rights. Gradually, under the inuence of Ricardo, this party orientated itself towards the indigenous free communi es and the poor peasants. The Magon brothers were forced into exile in the USA, whilst maintaining contact with PLM members in Mexico. In exile Ricardo met the American anarchist Emma Goldman and established a friendship with the Spaniard Florencio Bazora, a friend of the Italian anarchist Malatesta. Links were formed with the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The PLM, despite its con nuing to retain the same tle, started to transform itself into an anarchist communist organisa on. The Magonistas began to smuggle Regeneracion into Mexico and massive agita on took place among the workers and peasants. The PLM a empted two insurrec ons, in 1906 and 1908, both repressed. For their part, the USA interned some of the PLM leadership in 1907 for conspiracy and viola on of the laws of neutrality between Mexico and the

English sec on of Regeneracin, 1914.

USA. When Madero called for an uprising against Diaz on 20th November 1911 the PLM mobilised its forces. They were in favour of a tac cal alliance on the ground with the Madero forces against Diaz, but were categorically against a poli cal alliance with them. Indeed, the PLM hoped to win elements of the Maderistas over to more radical posi ons. Unfortunately the Madero uprising failed, and it was only in late December that the movement renewed itself. PLM forces under Praxedis Guerrero crossed the border and marched through the state of Chihuahua. The PLM

rose up in nine other states in Mexico, orchestra ng joint military ac vity with the Maderistas and inic ng big defeats on the old regime. In Baja California (see ar cle below) the PLM seized Mexicali and this deeply disturbed the regime. The PLM hoped in the long run to expropriate the big landowners there, but in the mean me, forced them to hand over large sums of money. The PLM, in addi on, hoped to use Baja California as a base from which to support other PLM units. PLM units gained many victories,

in contrast with the poor military record of the Maderistas. Internaonally many socialists, syndicalists and anarchists began supporting the cause of the PLM. Thanks to Silva, a PLM guerrilla commander, Madero returned to Mexico from the States, but on the following day, declared himself commander in chief of the insurgent forces, and a er another PLM commander came over to his side, he arrested Silva for refusing to recognise his authority. The situa on was compounded by the split between the leadership in exile in the States, clearly anarchist communist, and some of the PLM membership in Mexico, not as poli cally developed, and leading to compromises with Madero. For his part Madero denounced PLM militants to both the US and Mexican governments, and profited from lack of communica on to peddle the myth that the two movements were in alliance. This destroyed PLM unity, leading to splits towards Madero. Madero had eight leading Magonistas arrested in Chihuahua and one hundred and forty seven members of their units were disarmed. At the same me a campaign of slander began against the PLM on both sides of the border. On the American side they were portrayed as mere bandits. On the Mexican side they were portrayed as tools of American interests. This situa on was facilitated by the large number of American volunteers swelling PLM ranks, be they socialists, anarchists or IWW.

Emiliano Zapata organised armed bands to take back communal lands seized by the estates ... He represented a new genera on willing to ght.

should lay down their arms. The PLM refused this, and saw that a social revolu on was con nuing within Mexico. However, many insurgents now thought that the Madero regime would lead progressively towards greater social jus ce. The American Socialist Party withdrew its support from the PLM, and transferred it to Madero. Only a sec on of the IWW and the anarchists con nued to support the PLM. Despite these setbacks Regeneracion released a new manifesto to replace that of 1906, calling for struggle against authority, the Church and capitalism, and for the establishment of a free society. However, some inuen al members of the PLM, including Jesus Flores Magon, had rallied to Madero. And, in June 1912, Ricardo and other important PLM militants were arrested by the US government and sentenced to 23 months in jail for breaking the neutrality laws.

maintaining their principles and behaving as anarchists, whilst not using this tle. However repression was falling more and more upon the PLM. Ricardo and Librado Rivera were again arrested by the US government and sentenced respec vely to 20 and 15 years in jail!! In 1922 Ricardo died in prison, with strong indica ons that he had been murdered by the US authori es. Released in 1923, Rivera returned to Mexico where he was a leading light in the anarchist group, Hermanos Rojos, maintaining his convic ons un l his death in 1932.


Victory over Diaz Madero nally came to power in November 1211, signing a treaty with Diaz. Ocially, the Revolu on was over, and everyone

In the south, Emiliano Zapata organised armed bands to take back communal lands seized by the estates, spurred on by Maderos bid to challenge the old regime. He represented a new genera on willing to ght Peace only lasted a few weeks and the village elders accepted a er the signing of the treaty and this situa on, standing aside to several movements, including that let them take over the village of Zapata, took up the cry of Land councils. The movement around and Liberty. Madero himself was Zapata was dis nguished by its murdered by the reac onaries determina on to restore commuand a new phase of unrest began. nal land. As a result it increased When Ricardo Flores Magon came from a small band to a large out of jail in January 1914, he removement. It forced the Madero newed his agita on. Cri cising the regime to talk about widespread successive regimes, he denounced land reforms. The Zapa stas the manipula on of the masses established the Plan of Ayala callby the dierent fac ons of the ing for the return of seized lands, bourgeoisie. He cas gated Pancho and further, that a third of land Villa for ac ng as their servant, owned by the estates be distribbut praised the Zapa stas for uted to the landless. This was


O lio Montano the former school teacher who introduced Zapata to anarchist ideas.

Emiliano Zapata, his brother Eufemio and their wives.

dra ed by Zapata and a local anarchist teacher, O lio E. Montano. A er Huerta, represen ng the old regime, seized power and murdered Madero, many Magonistas and syndicalists ed south and made contact with the Zapa sta movement. Among these were Octavio Jahn, a French anarchist communist, and the brothers Ignacio and Antonio Diaz Soto y Gama. The Huerta coup meant that opposi on was coming from the liberal bourgeoisie, the workers movement and the rural movements. In the north the movement of cowboys and ranch hands around Villa adopted the Plan of Ayala, eec vely uni ng the movements in the countryside. Huerta was defeated. In the process, the peasant groups dismantled many big estates and killed or expelled many ocials of the old regime. The Zapa stas fought a classic guerrilla campaign, making sudden appearances, and then disappearing again. The move-

ment came to include tens of thousands. When Huerta was smashed the Zapa stas controlled the south. At the Conven on of Aguascalientes in September 1914, the dierent forces involved in the smashing of Huerta met up. Peasants and workers from the revolu onary units forced through the Plan of Ayala. Carranza and his group refused to accept this and set up their own government. These Carrancista then began to co-opt insurgent leaders. One of these, a Zapa sta leader called Jose Rouaix, who had become governor of Durango, joined Carranza and together they set up a commi ee on agrarian reform. At the same me Carranza sought to buy o the workers movement by promising labour legisla on and organising rights (see the separate ar cle A Grave Error). The Carrancista smashed Villa in the north, and in the south, isolated the Zapa stas. The

intelligentsia and many workers leaders made their peace with Carranza. The Zapa sta movement con nued in the south, with Zapata issuing many denuncia ons of the new regime, but by now he had lost most of his intellectual supporters, some of the insurgent leaders who had been won over by promises of non-interference in Zapa sta territory. On 9th April 1919 Zapata was lured into a trap and gunned down. The nal phase of the revolu on took place when some of Carranzas generals, who represented a more radical approach of a sec on of the bourgeoisie, revolted, and in the following hos li es, nally defeated him. In this conict the new contender for power, General Obregon, received the support of many remaining Zapa stas and those who had earlier joined Carranza.

The triumph of Obregon meant the ins tu onalisa on of the revolu on reected in the tle of the new ruling party, The Ins tuonal Revolu onary Party. The hopes and aspira ons of workers and peasants had been dashed.

Why Was The Revolu on Defeated? The PLM put the military and insurrec onal ques on before the poli cal educa on of its militants. As a result there was a lack of ideological unity, as seen in the succession of splits and defec ons. The 1906 and 1908 insurrec ons had resulted in the deaths or imprisonment of many of the most ac ve and poli cally advanced militants. The PLM, in its progression towards anarchism, began to accentuate the importance of the working class over that of the peasantry. However, the working class in Mexico was s ll in development and too weak and numerically small to have a decisive inuence. For its part, propaga on of PLM ideas among the peasants was hindered to a certain extent by widespread illiteracy. Recruitment to the PLM had been difcult, and the inux of foreign volunteers had distorted the situaon. The leading lights in the PLM had in the main remained in Los Angeles when they should have been on the ground in Mexico. They had believed that the produc on of Regeneracion, enabled by being in the States, was of rst importance. This removal from the scene clouded their judgement and their lack of clarity led to a debate on the interna onal level as to whether or not they were truly anarchist (they certainly were) robbing them of a certain amount of interna onal solidarity. The PLM suered from

Badge of Par do Liberal Mexicano.

pata arrived in Mexico City they failed to take the ini a ve. They failed to form an eec ve and las ng alliance among themTo end on a posi ve note, the selves, failed to establish links of PLM had inuenced the struggles solidarity with urban workers, of both workers and peasants and failed to confront Carranza with their an -authoritarian ideas, and to a empt to dismantle radicalising them from the Zapa s- State power. Nevertheless the intas in the south to the forma on uence of the Zapa stas echoes of unions heavily under the inudown to the present day. ences of anarchism. Today s ll in Oaxaca, the PLM has inspired the As to the workers movement, present-day Magonistas. lack of experience and numerical weakness does not excuse an inAs to the Zapa sta movement, ability to link up with the agrarwhilst most eec ve in its military ian movements, and the support ac vity and its land occupa ons, it given to Carranza against those failed to ac vely form an alliance movements. Revolu onaries, with urban workers, only gaining both in Mexico and elsewhere, the support of a small number of need to reect on all these misanarchist workers and intellectutakes, and be prepared to ght als. Like the PLM, its lack of poli - against coop on and comprocal educa on, led to the defec on mise in future social struggles. of people like Rouaix and others. When the forces of Villa and Za-

lack of nances, whereas Madero, for example, was able to call on millions of dollars.


Uprising in Baja
Baja California (Lower California) is the long nger of land that stretches down into the Pacic south of the border with California in the USA. The border towns of Tijuana and Mexicali and the coastal town of Ensanada are its chief towns. Here for six months during 1911 a major insurrec on took place. Organise! Looks at this li le-known event, in which the famous Wobbly, Joe Hill, is rumoured to have been involved. On 29th January 1911 twenty armed Magonista militants, led by Jose Maria Leyva, seized the town of Mexicali. Leyva called himself the General in Chief of the Insurgent Forces and was assisted by Simon Berthold. This act threatened the rich agricultural estates as well as the water resources used by the US farmers of Imperial Valley. The Magonistas were soon joined by many volunteers from the USA, boos ng their numbers to 80. A column of soldiers was sent from Ensenada to drive them out.

Magonistas in Tijuana a er the rst ba le at the border town, 1911.

At the same me in the US press an eccentric businessman, Dick Ferris, with backing from important bankers, began to make announcements about crea ng an independent Baja California, and to recruit one thousand men to Indecision within the insurgent carry this out. The US press began to falsely amalgamate the Magoni- ranks at Mexicali led to serious disagreements, with Stanley sta ac ons with Ferriss plans. a emp ng to strip Leyva of his command, which was counThe government troops were tered by Berthold. Stanley then defeated and the insurgents crossed the border into the USA increased their numbers to 200. The socialist John Kenneth Turner with the aim of convincing the Magonista leadership in Los brought them a delivery of arms Angeles that he should lead an over the border. A few days later,

thirty Americans led by ex-sergeant William Stanley seized a border post to the east of Mexicali. The following day, Leyva and Berthold declared the founda on of a coopera ve commonwealth in Baja California. The insurgents now numbered 300 at Mexicali, with two thirds of them from the USA. On 1st March another Magonista column led by Francisco Vasquez Salinas and Luis Rodriguez crossed the border into Baja California and started requisi oning the big estates near Tecate.

independent expedi on. Luis Rodriguez seized Tecate on 12th March, whilst Stanley again seized the same border post and built up his forces to a hundred. Meanwhile the US government, arighted by the perceived threat to its interests, massed 20,000 soldiers on the border. Figh ng now broke out between the government troops and the insurgents, Tecate was retaken and Leyva and Berthold failed to regain it. Antagonisms between the Americans and the Mexicans within the insurgent ranks con nued, with Leyva being blamed for the defeat. He was dismissed as commander and replaced by Salinas. Disobeying Salinas, Stanley launched an a ack on government troops and was defeated dying a day later. He was replaced by Caryl ap Rhys Pryce, a Welsh soldier of fortune who accused Salinas of having betrayed Stanley.

cease hos li es, and Pryce, who was favourable to a ceasere, went to L.A. to argue for this. He was dismissed. His place at Tijuana was taken by Louis James, also under the inuence of Ferris. James called for an independent republic and the new regime used this as a pretext of accusing the Magonistas of serving US interests. Fortunately, James was ousted and forced to ee. Mosby a empted to control the situaon and closed down the saloons and casinos. However he s ll looked for tourist revenue and set up a Wild West Show in the style of Bualo Bill! The Mexican government convened with the US authori es, which allowed 1500 Mexican troops to cross and re-cross the border and a ack the insurgents. The detachment of Guerrero was massacred. For their part the US authori es arrested the Magonista leadership in Los Angeles. Leyva, who had gone over to the Madero regime, nego ated a surrender of the insurgents at Mexicali. Leyva later made a career in the Mexican army. The forces led by Mosby at Tijuana refused to surrender and were a acked by government troops. The insurgents ed, Mexicans and Indians disappearing into the countryside and the Americans eeing over the border where they were disarmed by the US Army. The a empt at revolu on in Baja California, had proved to be a asco, with the insurgents crippled by dissensions between Americans, Mexicans and Indians, and with opportunism and lack of poli cal principle rife among some of its leading actors.

Volunteers in the Magonista foreign legion pose for the cameraman in May 1911.

On 13th April Berthold died of an infec on of a wound he had sustained in the previous month. The elec on of a new commander aggravated the conicts between Mexicans and Americans and a group of Indians, led by Emilio Guerrero, quit the detachment. Meanwhile the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) delivered arms to the insurgents. Salinas arrived in Los Angeles to meet with the Magonista leadership but was arrested by the US authori es. Francisco Quijadas replaced him. Meanwhile Mosby was wounded and replaced by Sam Wood, who was joined by Pryce at the retaken town of Tecate. They seized Tijuana a er erce gh ng. Tijuana was, and s ll is, a playground for Americans to come over the border to spend their money in saloons, casinos, brothels and at the racetrack. The

capture of Tijuana led to great enthusiasm in radical circles with 30 deserters from the US Army crossing the border to join the insurgents. However media a en on went to Pryces head. He set up a system where for 25 cents American tourists could visit the sights of ba le. He allowed the saloons and gambling dens to con nue their ac vi es, taxing them and sending 850 dollars to the Magonista leadership. Pryce became more and more out of control and started talking about uni ng Baja California to the USA, in several interviews to US papers. He regularly crossed the border, dining at the best restaurants in San Diego and establishing contact with the businessman Dick Ferris. The Madero regime had now come to power on 21st May. The Magonista leadership refused to


A Grave Error:
the Mexican Syndicalists
The birth of the workers movement in Mexico was profoundly inuenced by anarchism. This movement proclaimed independence from the poli cal par es and the State. Yet in 1915 a pact was signed with the Cons tu onalists led by Carranza. Organise! Looks at why this might have happened. The workers movement in Mexico was rela vely young and inexperienced. At the me the popula on counted eleven million who lived in the countryside as opposed to four million who lived in urban centres. A comparison with Russia during the 1917 Revolu on could be made. workers. They founded a paper of the same name and proposed the se ng up of a free school modelled on the principles of the Spanish anarchist, Ferrer. The paper was suppressed and Moncaleano was expelled by the Madero regime. However those remaining set up the Casa del Obrero Mundial (House of the Interna onal Worker), the name being also used for a local federa on of unions. New papers supported by the Casa began to appear in 1913. building was closed down by the authori es with the planned demonstra ons of 1st May 1914 being used as a pretext. With the fall of Huerta, Carranza now intervened and allowed the Casa to establish itself at a commandeered convent. The Carranza regime inaugurated a period of normalisa on into the Mexican revolu on. Intrigues mul plied, a whole host of careerists and proteers inserted themselves into the administraon, and norms were established controlling nego a on with the employers, demonstra ons on the streets, poli cal mee ngs etc. The State now became the legal arbiter in workplace disputes. In this climate, the Casa established a pact with Carranza on 17th February 1915 and workers organised by the Casa in Red Ba alions and Anarchist Sanitary Ba alions reinforced Carranzas troops. They were used to counter the detachments of the peasant revolu onaries of Zapata and Villa! Seven thousand Mexico

The Casa carried out intense ac vity, advanced the ideas of direct ac on and rejected the The rst two decades of the interven on of the Ministry twen eth century were marked of Labour created by the new by a radicalisa on of the Mexican leader of Mexico, Huerta, in conworkers movement, with an inux icts between the workers and of Spanish immigrants, bringing the employers. with them new forms of organising. The tradi onal forms of orHowever, a sec on of the moveganising began to give way to new ment began to ally itself with and radical unions based on the another contender for power, ideas of anarcho-syndicalism. General Carranza. The Casa When Madero came to power in 1911, the legisla on workers organisa on that had existed Carranza and representa ves of Casa del Obrero Mundial. under the regime of Porrio Diaz did not disappear. However the fall of Diaz had encouraged this movement and strikes of transport workers, bakers, clothes makers and the dockers of the port town of Tampico broke out during that year. A Colombian anarchist, Juan Francisco Moncaleano, arrived in Mexico in 1912 and with seven others set up the Luz (Light) Group, formed mostly of manual

City workers went to the Cons tu onalist military training centre and their par cipa on was signicant in victories over Villa and Zapata. The Casa jus ed this on the grounds of the religiosity and the primarily agrarian outlook of the Zapa stas and Villistas, accusing them of being backed by the Church and bankers!! In exchange, Carranza gave the Casa some ofces and allowed the publica on of their papers. Eulogies to heroic Cons tu onalist leaders started appearing in these papers with such comments as, The triumph of cons tu onalism is the triumph of liberty! All of this did not stop Carranza shu ng down the Casa H.Q. one year later when the Casa a empted to start organising again in the workplaces. This appalling mistake was argued against by the Magonistas and by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in the USA, and was rejected by the railworkers, the oil workers and the tex le workers of Puebla and Veracruz. An a empt was made to set up a revolu onary central of anarcho-syndicalist unions in July 1915, and a li le later, a workers conference took place in Veracruz and the CNT (Mexican region) was created. However, this organisa on was s llborn and a er an a empt at a general strike in August 1916 it was savagely repressed by the Obregon regime. This now set up an ocial union central the Regional Workers Confederaon of Mexico (CROM). This new organisa on was completely corpora st, ghtly aligned with the State, with a well-paid and large bureaucracy, ac ng as a direct control by the poli cians over the workers. Even a large number of old ac vists ac ve within Mexican anarcho-syndicalism entered its ranks.

Press Fund Appeal

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The anarchist sculptor Henri Gaudier Brzeska

educa onalist Francisco Ferrer by the Spanish state, a demonstraon which ended in a riot. The many strikes and demonstraons of 1910 pulled him more and more into the orbit of the workers movement and the anarchist movement and he became acquainted with the ideas of syndicalism. Among these demonstra ons was the funeral of the anarchist Cler, murdered by the police during a strike in June of that year. Another demonstraon a ended by Gaudier was the huge demonstra on to protest the execu on of Liabeuf. This young worker had falsely been accused of being a ponce when he fell in love with a pros tute. As a result he was jailed. Coming out of prison he had decided to avenge himself and had a acked a police patrol killing one cop and wounding seven others. He went to his death crying I am not a ponce! The demonstra on, supported by many workers, ar sts and writers, also turned into confronta ons with the police and Gaudier might well have been involved with these. The fate of Liabeuf was to have an eect on Gaudier, as will be seen(1). He began to produce sculptures in this period. In May 1910 he met a Polish woman, Sophie Brzeska, twenty years older than himself, and fell in love with her. In an attempt to introduce Sophie to his family, the pair thought it a good idea that Sophie got lodgings in a village near his old home. There was an anonymous denuncia on to the police and she was accused

The Tate Gallery in London recently hosted an exhibi on on the radical art movement the Vor cists. Organise! looks at the poli cal convic ons of one of its members, the sculptor Gaudier-Brzeska. Henri Gaudier was born in 1891 at Saint Jean de Braye on the eastern outskirts of Orleans in France. The district was part rural and part urban. He wanted to become a carpenter like his father but showed great talent at school, immersing himself in books, school work and drawing and becoming a solitary individual isolated from his sisters and mother. The award of a grant meant that he was able to study abroad in England for

two years at the age of sixteen, taking on business studies at rst in Bristol and then Cardi, all the me drawing and reading more and more. He then con nued to study at Nuremburg in Germany between April and September 1909. Returning from Germany he decided to interrupt his studies and moved to Paris where he got a job as a translator with a publisher. He made use of a local library and in his spare me hung out in student and ar s c circles, becoming acquainted with anarchist militants. He took part in the enormous demonstra on in Paris on 14th October 1909 against the announcement of the death sentence on the anarchist

of being a pros tute, and she was forced to return to Paris. Remembering the example of Liabeuf and the strictures put on free love, Gaudier passed Sophie o as his sister, even to his close ar s c associates. His convic ons on free love, in addi on to his an -militarist convic ons, pushed him more and more towards the anarchist movement, and Sophie herself appears to have had anarchist convic ons. He was inuenced by Malatesta but most of all by the anarchist theorist Kropotkin. He tried to meet Kropotkin in December 1912 in London, describing him as the great anarchist. He wrote to Sophie that he would have been delighted to execute a portrait of Kropotkin. He admired the work of the great illustrator Aris de Delannoy, whose sketches appeared in the libertarian papers Temps Nouveaux and LHomme du Jour and mourned his death in 1911. He was also an admirer of Steinlen, another noted anarchist illustrator. He himself had an inclina on to become an illustrator for the anarchist press to the extent of sidelining his sculpture. He assiduously read the French anarchist papers and the London anarchist journal Freedom. Fleeing the dra in 1911 he le France for London in January of that year. There he met up with Sophie again and they a empted to earn a living, o en having to be separated for long periods because of work. Henri found a job with a wood merchant in the City, and began to develop his sculptural skills, at rst modelling himself on Rodin, and then inuenced by his visits to the Bri sh Museum, falling more and more under the inuence of the tribal arts of Africa and Oceania. In 1912 his drawings appeared in a magazine of modern art, Rhythm, signed Gaudier-Brzeska. During 1913 and the rst part of 1914 he produced some of his nest work, compared to the most advanced works of the me being produced by Archipenko, Modigliani, Zadkine, Epstein and Brancusi. As a result of several commissions, he was able to open a workshop and to buy supplies of marble. He le his job in autumn 1913 and devoted himself to his art. He became connected with the London Group of avant garde ar sts, dieren a ng himself from the Futurist movement. In four texts published a er his death in the Vor cist magazine Blast, he outlined his dierences with impressionism and futurism. He became a par cipant in the Vor cist group, and a friend of the poet Ezra Pound. Pound and Gaudier-Brzeska had many arguments about the la ers anarchism. Pound, as is well known, later became a supporter of fascism and a notorious ant-Semite. Gaudier-Brzeska made an analogy of his technique of directly carving into marble with the anarchist idea of direct ac on! One of his works, Two Women Running, unfortunately now lost, is described by Gaudier-Brzeska as an allegory of the spirit of Liberty urging on Woman to a nobler life. jus fying this appalling aboutface with a need for a defence of civilisa on and culture against the forces of a barbarous and authoritarian Germany. GaudierBrzeska was to write in 1912 that he was chastened that the youth of France had not revolted en masse against the abominable conscrip on and that he did not recognise any patrio c duty to join the dra . Two years later he was to jus fy his new stance by sta ng that, It is a ma er of saving civilisa on before these bastards destroy all works of Art. Further reading: Mark Antli, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska's Guerre sociale Art, Anarchism and An Militarism in Paris and London, 19101915 in the journal Modernism/modernity, Volume 17, Number 1, January 2010, pp. 135-169.

(1)Victor Serge in his Memoirs of a Revolu onary gives a graphic descrip on of the Liabeuf aair Shouts and angry scues broke out when the guillo ne wagon arrived, escorted by a squad of cavalry. For some hours there was a ba le on the spot, the police charges forcing us ineec vely because of the darkness, into side-streets from which sec ons of the crowd would disgorge once again the next minute At dawn, exhaus on quietened the crowd, and at the instant when the blade fell upon a raging head So what then compelled this com- s ll yelling its innocence, a bafed frenzy gripped the twenty or mi ed an -militarist to suddenly thirty thousand demonstrators, and renounce his convic ons on the found its outlet in a long-drawn cry: outbreak of the First World War? Murderers!... When in the morning Why did he return to France to en- I returned to that part of the boulelist to be subsequently slaughtered vard, a huge policeman, standing on on the front on 5th June 1915? the square of fresh sand which had been thrown over the blood, was atMalatesta was to rage, Have the ten vely treading a rose into it. anarchists lost their principles?

Gaudier-Brzeska, like many socialists, syndicalists and an anarchist minority which included Kropotkin, were to enthusias cally support the Allies against Germany,


David John Douglass, Ghost Dancers: The Miners' Last Genera on (Chris e Books, 2010). Paperback: 540 pages ISBN-10: 1873976402 ISBN-13: 9781873976401 Ghost Dancers is the third and arguably the best of Dave Douglass autobiographical trilogy Stardust and Coaldust - A Coalminers Mahabharata. In it Dave documents the great miners strike 19845, the years immediately before, the conict itself and then the fall out. It is a long and in many respects detailed account but it needs to be; the strike was recognised by many at the me as of fundamental importance for the fortunes not only of the miners but of the organised progressive Bri sh working-class in its en rety; its impact stretched even to far ung Penzance, where Labour Party ac vists received a generous response when passing round the collec ng bucket in the town and conducted a war of words in the local press with Roman Catholic priests and others. But in achieving this status, the strike has also a racted a lot of myths, o en media invented, that have li le or no bearing in reality. Dave does a very admirable and eec ve job of nailing very many of these myths. A good deal revolved around the apparently poor tac cal decision over the ming of the strike and the leadership of Arthur Scargill. Dave shows that, while Arthur might have fed the myth of his own omnipotence himself, the heavily decentralised NUM (like the old Miners Federaon before it) was not easily led into a strike it did not want. In fact areas came out in support of other areas, thereby building a de facto na onal strike from the also with their erstwhile comrades who were looking for a pay-o and a way out of the industry. This did not prevent another chance to ght in the early 1990s, when massive public sympathy and, oddly enough, brief media support for the miners gave them another chance. But as Dave argues, the general mood was not for another outright ght, contrary to the claims of many of the 57 variees of le y. The Major government nished what Thatcher had started and much of the le is s ll coming to terms with the consequences of this watershed. Ghost Dancers is told with Daves customary honesty, humour and anger. It is a commi ed and largely convincing account by someone who was signicant in the events described, but who manages very well to keep their own role in perspec ve and to talk engagingly and independently about other persons and forces in the struggle. This includes the anarchists who come out very well wri en with Daves unique libertarian but un-sectarian and un-dogma c perspec ve, Ghost Dancers is essen al reading for anyone who wants to be er understand what happened to the miners in the 1980s and early 1990s and why we are s ll coming to terms with the consequences. Ghost Dancers is available from: Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, Whitechapel High Street, London; Housemans Bookshop, Caledonian Road, London; and ordered from all branches of Waterstones; online from and AK distribu on. Class War readers can also get a personally signed copy, direct from the author on (13.50 post paid).

response of regional elements of the NUM to pit closures in their areas. Dave gives a detailed and nuanced discussion of the issues around whether or not to hold a na onal secret ballot, something the press made an awful lot of. He shows it was a decision of the rank-and-le a er exhausve debate and discussion, and not some instruc on from Arthur Scargill as is now universally believed. He also shows how the miners came close to securing some sort of victory on several occasions, only for the Thatcher government to harden their resolve and ght on. The discussion of organising the ying pickets by one of those most responsible for it is also makes for fascina ng reading, as do the details of the various debates and conicts that arose as the hunger set in. These of course include the humorous (and not so humorous) picket-line anecdote as well as detailed excerpts from the set-piece conference speech. Finally, Dave shows how the defeat did not demoralise all miners. Many kept on gh ng, though they had to do so now



Bob Miller (1953-2011)

Goodbye Comrade Bob. On June 17th this year Bob Miller died a er a brief and intense ght with cancer. This was a tragic blow not just for his family, friends and comrades, but also for the revolu onary movement which in Bob, lost a dedicated and committed contributor to its past, present and its future.

state socialism, Maoist populism, or the despo c leaderships of the na onal libera on movements Bob found his home amongst the Libertarian Anarchist Communists

mes of the publica ons of this movement he helped sustain and develop our presence and role to this day, ensuring that the voice of the revolu onary minority had a place to be heard. Bob was no paragon of virtue, nor hero, nor icon. On the contrary, it was exactly his normality, his open and accessible humanity that allowed him to achieve so much. A warm generous individual, his ability to make friends, be open to discussion, his recogni on of the poten al and goodness of people around him - those he considered comrades, and those not necessarily fellow travellers - gave him the ears of many. Condent and clear in his own revolu onary ideas, he was non sectarian and warmly

From the point he joined the group Social Revolu on in 1972 he began a contribu on as ac vist, writer and theore cian that shaped the course and character of the revolu onary movement Bob was inspired like many of his for the next 40 years. Those of us ac ve today are aware of the genera on in the late 60s and seminal contribu ons to our early 70s by the intensity of the thought and prac ce that came class struggle against capitalism from the organisa ons Bob dediand its superpower conicts by proxy in Vietnam and throughout cated himself to in those years: the developing world. Not falling Solidarity for Social Revolu on, for the mesmerising range of false Careless Talk, Intercom, Wildcat, Subversion, and for the last 13 choices oered to young revolu onists then to side with one years the Anarchist Federa on. As editor and author at various state or another liberalism or

welcomed the contribu on of others. His funeral, a ended by more than 300 people included not just friends, family and work colleagues (though Bob had recently re red), but comrades and revolu onaries from a range of tradions and viewpoints from around Europe. As a worker Bob fought his corner for his colleagues and class. As a teacher suppor ng largely working class children from migrant communi es for whom English was not their rst language, he was well known in and respected by the diverse ethnic and religious communi es of his home town of Oldham in the North West. He also gained the a en on of those who revile our class interests, the racist thugs and fascists of the Na onal Front in its turn, and the Bri sh Na onal Party and its successors and o shoots. Bob had a secret pride in appearing on the Nazi thug site Red Watch as a key enemy of na onalism and the white supremacists. Without machismo or an ins nct for violence, Bob was not afraid of defending our class and his communi es on the street and in his neighbourhood. edited our na onal publica ons Resistance and Organise!, along with others, always ensuring a rallying point and visibility in the North West of England, so vital at mes when pessimism, illness or exhaus on aected some of us around him. La erly he had been instrumental in the organisa ons regenera on and growth giving our movement a rm and stable founda on into a future no one imagined he would be removed from in such un mely fashion. unaware of the seriousness of his illness un l the last month of his life. A devout atheist and humanist Bob bore the news and prospect of death with a realism and stoicism that inspires his friends and his family. His partner and comrade Sally barely le his side in those last weeks, loving, caring and suppor ng even of his determina on to ease the pain of those around him with his con nuing mentoring and realism. In his death both grief and celebra on of a great life go hand in hand. We love, appreciate, miss and thank our Comrade Bob for all the things he brought to our lives and movement.

In his last year, along with his long me partner, wife, comrade and constant companion Sally, he fought a famous campaign on behalf of a young refugee Rabar Hamed, an Iraqi school student, whom the Bri sh State threw on to the streets and des tu on as a precursor to deporta on. The campaign achieved rapid success and na onal a en on, gaining recogni on from Human Rights organisa ons and earning him and Sally the Human Rights Ac vist 2010 award for Rabars defence in their local community. While this, as so many other struggles, con nues, Bob remained commi ed and ac ve up to losing consciousness in his last Whilst a key mentor and organiser few days. in the Anarchist Federa on, espeIt is a small mercy that Bob was cially in its North West sec on, he

From Sally Bob died quietly and bravely which was how he lived his life. He was a quiet hero to me and to our kids, Ka e and Tom. He gave us an uncondi onal love based in kindness although anyone who knew him was aware he could be a grumpy bugger. It isnt possible to say how much we miss him, but we were so lucky to have known and loved him and to have been loved by him.


Also available from the Anarchist Federation

In the Tradi on
Explaining where our poli cs comes from. Ar cles from the pages of Organise from 1996 on the First 10 years of the Anarchist Communist Federa on (as we were then known) and from 1999-2004, the series In the Tradi on which documents many of the earlier revolu onary groups that we draw some inspira on from. 2.50 (UK) and 3.00 (overseas)

Beyond Resistance - a revolu onary manifesto

The AFs in-depth analysis of the capitalist world in crisis, sugges ons about what the alterna ve Anarchist Communist society could be like, and evalua on of social and organisa onal forces which play a part in the revolu onary process. 2.50 (UK) and 3.00 (overseas)

Basic Bakunin
This 2007 updated edi on of put rst pamphlet outlines the ideas of one of the 19th century founders of class struggle anarchism. 1.50 (UK) and 2.00 (overseas)

Kropotkin and the History of Anarchism by Brian Morris

A new pamphlet introducing the ideas of one of the most inuen al anarchist communist writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 2.50 (UK) and 3.00 (overseas)

Introduc on to Anarchist Communism

This pamphlet is made up of two parts that run alongside each other. The main text lays out the fundamental ideas of anarchist communism. Various boxes throughout the text give examples from history to illustrate the ideas described in the main sec on. 2.50 (UK) and 3.00 (overseas)

Against Na onalism
Published September 2009, an analysis of na onalism and why anarchist communists are fundamentally against it. 2.50 (UK) and 3.00 (overseas)

Work and the Free Society

The name says it all. Why work is so terrible and why it must be destroyed before it destroys us! 2.50 (UK) and 3.00 (overseas)

Role of the Revolu onary Organisa on

Anarchist communists reject the Leninist model of a vanguard party as counter-revolu onary. This new edi on explains the concept of revoluonary organisa on and its structure. All libertarian revolu onaries should read this fundamental text. 2.50 (UK) and 3.00 (overseas)

We recommend online ordering of pamphlets through h p:// Printed publica ons are available by post from: BM ANARFED, London, WC1N 3XX. England, UK Cheques and POs are payable to AFED.

Back Issues
Back issues of Organise! are available from the London address (or email distribu for 1.50 inc. p&p. Alterna vely, send us a ver and well send you whatever we can nd lying around. For complete list of back issues h p:// ons/ organise-magazine.html

Foreign Language Documents

Transla ons of various AF texts are available in Arabic, Franais/French, Deutsch/German, Espaol/Spanish, Portugus/Portuguese, / Greek, Hollands/Dutch, /Russian, Gidhlig/Gaelic, Cymraeg/ Welsh, Esperanto, and Turkish. For complete lis ngs: h p:// on/interna onal-iaf-ifa.html As We See It 70p plus postage Available in Welsh, Serbo-Croat, Greek. German, Spanish and Portugese. Beyond Resistance 70p plus postage Available in French.



Aims & Principles

of the Anarchist Federation
1 The Anarchist Federa on is an organisa on of revoluonary class struggle anarchists. We aim for the aboli on of all hierarchy, and work for the crea on of a world-wide classless society: anarchist communism. 2 Capitalism is based on the exploita on of the working class by the ruling class. But inequality and exploita on are also expressed in terms of race, gender, sexuality, health, ability and age, and in these ways one sec on of the working class oppresses another. This divides us, causing a lack of class unity in struggle that benets the ruling class. Oppressed groups are strengthened by autonomous ac on which challenges social and economic power rela onships. To achieve our goal we must relinquish power over each other on a personal as well as a poli cal level. 3 We believe that gh ng racism and sexism is as important as other aspects of the class struggle. AnarchistCommunism cannot be achieved while sexism and racism s ll exist. In order to be eec ve in their struggle against their oppression both within society and within the working class, women, lesbians and gays, and black people may at mes need to organise independently. However, this should be as working class people as cross-class movements hide real class dierences and achieve li le for them. Full emancipa on cannot be achieved without the aboli on of capitalism. 4 We are opposed to the ideology of na onal libera on movements which claims that there is some common interest between na ve bosses and the working class in face of foreign domina on. We do support working class struggles against racism, genocide, ethnocide and poli cal and economic colonialism. We oppose the crea on of any new ruling class. We reject all forms of na onalism, as this only serves to redene divisions in the internaonal working class. The working class has no country and na onal boundaries must be eliminated. We seek to build an anarchist interna onal to work with other libertarian revolu onaries throughout the world. 5 As well as exploi ng and oppressing the majority of people, Capitalism threatens the world through war and the destruc on of the environment. 6 It is not possible to abolish Capitalism without a revoluon, which will arise out of class conict. The ruling class must be completely overthrown to achieve anarchist communism. Because the ruling class will not relinquish power without their use of armed force, this revolu on will be a me of violence as well as libera on. 7 Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolu onary transforma on of society. They have to be accepted by capitalism in order to func on and so cannot play a part in its overthrow. Trades unions divide the working class (between employed and unemployed, trade and cra , skilled and unskilled, etc). Even syndicalist unions are constrained by the fundamental nature of unionism. The union has to be able to control its membership in order to make deals with management. Their aim, through nego a on, is to achieve a fairer form of exploita on of the workforce. The interests of leaders and representa ves will always be dierent from ours. The boss class is our enemy, and while we must ght for be er condi ons from it, we have to realise that reforms we may achieve today may be taken away tomorrow. Our ul mate aim must be the complete aboli on of wage slavery. Working within the unions can never achieve this. However, we do not argue for people to leave unions un l they are made irrelevant by the revolu onary event. The union is a common point of departure for many workers. Rank and le ini a ves may strengthen us in the ba le for anarchist communism. Whats important is that we organise ourselves collec vely, arguing for workers to control struggles themselves. 8 Genuine libera on can only come about through the revolu onary self ac vity of the working class on a mass scale. An anarchist communist society means not only co-opera on between equals, but ac ve involvement in the shaping and crea ng of that society during and a er the revolu on. In mes of upheaval and struggle, people will need to create their own revolu onary organisa ons controlled by everyone in them. These autonomous organisa ons will be outside the control of poli cal par es, and within them we will learn many important lessons of self-ac vity. 9 As anarchists we organise in all areas of life to try to advance the revolu onary process. We believe a strong anarchist organisa on is necessary to help us to this end. Unlike other so-called socialists or communists we do not want power or control for our organisa on. We recognise that the revolu on can only be carried out directly by the working class. However, the revolu on must be preceded by organisa ons able to convince people of the anarchist communist alterna ve and method. We par cipate in struggle as anarchist communists, and organise on a federa ve basis. We reject sectarianism and work for a united revolu onary anarchist movement. 10 We oppose organised religion and cults and hold to a materialist analysis of capitalist society. We, the working class, can change society through our own eorts. Worshipping an unprovable spiritual realm, or believing in a religious unity between classes, mys es or suppresses such self-emancipa on / libera on. We reject any no on that people can be liberated through some kind of supernatural force. We work towards a society where religion is no longer relevant.